Making friends is part and parcel of every child’s development.
When children start going to school, they need to learn to make friends, but they may not be very familiar with how to and they may not understand the true meaning of friendships.
It can be a challenge for parents as you may feel worried about how you can help them to make friends and build their social skills.
But don’t worry, teaching a child how to make friends is definitely doable as long as you follow these steps:
Teach them phrases that they can use
Young children are unsure of how to use words to express themselves and may be at a loss of how exactly the process of making friends should go.
As a parent, you can help them by teaching them what they can say and what not to say.
For example, the most difficult part of all — how to start a conversation: “Do you want to play together?”
You can also teach them what they should be doing such as sharing toys, taking turns, using kind words like “please” and “thank you”, etc.
With practice, using the right words will become second nature to them.
Compliment them and teach them to compliment others
At their age, many young children tend to be overly competitive and critical of others.
According to Parents.com, children gauge their increasing sense of competence by comparing themselves to their peers. This means that they might withhold praise and put their friends down in order to feel superior, and we all know that this could be detrimental to friendships.
Children need to learn the beauty of complimenting others, and they learn by mirroring their parents. So you should practice complimenting them or complimenting others in front of them.
Get them to identify what makes a good friend
There are qualities and actions that make one a good friend, such as helping them with favours, sharing etc. Children can learn to identify these traits at a young age through simple activities.
You can give them a list of friend qualities and get them to match these qualities, whether they belong to an imaginary ‘good’ or ‘bad’ friend. When they think of an imaginary friend, what kind of qualities would they want?
By playing engaging games, children will grow to remember how they can be a good friend.
Bring them to socialise often
Practice makes perfect. In order to master the art of socialising, children must have many opportunities to do so.
Set aside regular outdoor play sessions, perhaps at least once a week, and bring your child to places where there are many children of their age to play with.
A common and cost-free option would be the playground where there are lots of fun equipment for your child to play with, with some even being collaborative tools such as puzzles.
In order to ensure that making friends becomes second nature to your children, consistency is key, so bring them out there to socialise often!
Let them have fun with friends
Making friends can be a stressful process for children in itself, but it can be made into a naturally enjoyable process when coupled with play.
To release the pressure of making friends, it is important for children to find fun and joy in playing with their friends, where they can put what they have learnt about friends into practice.
At their young age, children may not be able to fully understand the true importance of friendship, but they can associate friends with positive feelings of good company and the essence of sharing.
When they enjoy socialising and look forward to it, making friends will become easier for them.
When your child struggles with building friendships, you can help them by directing and supervising them.
I hope that this article has been useful in helping you to help your child improve their friendship skills.
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