Have you ever thought that making friends will better your child’s mental and physical health? There is a high chance that your child wants to play with kids from class or the neighborhood, just like other kids their age.
However, there could also be a chance they do not know how to strike up a conversation or make friends in general.
Children having friends will teach them how to have companions. Kids need to have a friend they can depend on if they are in trouble, distressed, or want someone to talk to. Having a trustworthy friend they can confide in will ease their burden and lessen their problems as this person listens to them and provides a shoulder they can lean on.
Also, a child’s first experience of playing games like tag could be the start of teaching them proper social skills that they will use when interacting with other people.
This might be easier for some kids, but not entirely because parents sometimes tend to interfere or make it harder for their children by expecting too much. This is not because children in this generation lack sociability, but it can be due to shyness or fear of rejection.
Here are some easy tips for parents on how they can help their children make genuine friends.
Pay Attention to Your Child
One of the best ways to help your child make friends is by becoming more aware and observant of their behavior. For example, do you notice any changes in behavior such as mood swings, emotional outbursts, or becoming more introverted than usual? Paying attention to their behaviors and emotions will allow you to understand better what they are going through and what they might need.
Let Them Observe Others
Have children sit back and observe how other kids play during recess or after school. You can even ask them questions about what they think of someones’ actions or whether someone looks sad/happy/bored etc.
This will encourage them to be more empathetic towards others and understand what/how they are feeling. Joining various after-school activities is also a great idea because your kids can meet different children from different backgrounds.
Encourage Them to Try New Things
This would be the most challenging step in the process of helping your child make friends, but it is undoubtedly the most important one. Instead of forcing them into doing something they do not want to do, encourage them by saying, “Let’s give it a try.”
For example, if your child says they want to join baseball or some other sport, instead of telling them that you do not have time, ask whether you can come to watch him play once in a while. Or, if your child wants to attend a birthday party but is too shy, try talking to their friends’ parents about the possibility of sending him over for a play date.
This is perhaps one of the most challenging steps because it takes children to build up trust and become confident. Therefore, just like with any person, give your child ample time before you jump to conclusions.
If they are still hesitant around others by the time they enter primary school, it’s high time you sought help from experts in the field who have more experience. When they have to stay at home during the pandemic, you can enroll them in an online charter school. They can study online and make new friends at the same time.
Although being patient is very important during this process, do not forget to check on them now and again because sometimes kids need some privacy.
Encourage Them to Play Together
This step could be as easy as asking your child to invite a friend home or play with them at the playground. You might have noticed that kids are more open-minded and less judgmental towards others, so this is probably the best time for you to push them towards making their first few friends.
Play Games with Your Kids
Play games together with kids you would like as friends. When playing by yourself, consider letting your child play with children who have trouble making friends or suffer from loneliness or rejection. Not only can this help them learn how to make friends more quickly, but they will also learn how great it feels when someone accepts them for themselves!
Let Them Decide for Themselves
Try not to be overprotective of your children; in fact, try to teach them how important it is to take care of oneself in difficult situations like these. Sometimes kids will turn away others because they are too scared or anxious about what might happen if they make friends with the other kids.
Also, avoid trying to force your child into having friends. Most of us can agree that forcing another human being into doing something that they don’t want to do is not an effective way of making good friendships, and it will likely lead to reduced self-esteem in your child.
Don’t Compare Them to Other Kids.
Try not to compare your child’s social interactions with their peers. Every person on Earth interacts differently with others, which is normal—different personalities call for different relationships. If the children are taking time out of their schedules to play with each other, that’s great. But if it’s not the case, continue to support your child and let them know that they can come to you if anything happens.
Keep an Open Mind
Remember that friends grow apart sometimes; while some friendships might fade away into distant memories, others may strengthen over time. Try not to get discouraged if your child isn’t interested in seeing a friend anymore; instead, try to take an interest in the things they are doing with their new peer group.
Parents of socially isolated children can attempt to help their child make friends by being patient, encouraging playtime with other kids, allowing them to choose for themselves, and not comparing their social interactions with others. But if a parent does not feel comfortable attempting these steps, they should seek the guidance of a professional.