Making friends at school

Help your child make friends at school

Teach your child basic social skills.

Children need to learn the basics of social interaction: how to say hello, answer a question with a sentence and not just a word, using eye contact and the importance of letting a person finish what they say before speaking.

Don't answer for a shy child.

If your child is overly timid or shy, be supportive but don't always step in and answer for them. You may be in a shop and the person serving you asks your child a question; give your child the opportunity to answer and gently encourage them to do so if they remain quiet. Taking small steps to learn to speak for themselves is the path to overcoming shyness.

Encouraging your child to talk about their experiences.

During the drive home from school or over dinner, chat to your child about their day but rather than asking, "What did you do today" talk about what you did during the day. This will make it easier for your child to join in with what they did during their day. More often than not they will find it easier to join a conversation than start one.

Find like minded friends.

Joining an extra curricular activity will offer your child the opportunity to spend time with like-minded children and is a great way to form friendships. A team sport is another quick route to making new friends.

Small group vs big group.

Both are equally positive experiences and it all depends on your child's preference.

Offer to carpool.

This will provide casual opportunities for your child to mix with others and helps you to get to know the other parents. Often it is the parents who make the first connections when it comes to developing friendships and this takes initial pressure off the kids.

Listen don't do.

Sometimes your child just needs to talk about their feelings and experiences and don't always need or want you to solve their problems. Often it's best if you don't step in to solve peer problems, rather help your child to feel less anxious about the pressure to be popular.

Role playing.

If you have identified a problem that is getting in the way of your child making friends you can help come up with a plan for solving this by role-playing. Ask your child to play the role of the person they are having problems with and you play the role of your child. This way you can show solutions in action, which are much easier for a child to grasp than just hearing you talk.

Invite children over.

You need to make time to have children over for a play. Keep an eye on the kids without interfering and you'll soon see which children play well with your child and which ones don't. You'll also notice whether your child has any problems with interacting socially, such as being too bossy or too timid. Make it a fun experience for children to visit your home but don't appear desperate. Once you have invited a friend for a play wait until that friend invites your child to play before offering another invitation.

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This article was created for Kidspot ��� New Zealand's parenting resource for education.

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