A new year is here and for many, this means a new year at school and often involves meeting new people and making new friends. Trying to make new friends can be a daunting prospect for many young kids, but this is a crucial survival skill for humans. Research has shown that parents play a large role in teaching their kids how to make friends and can help their kids develop their conversational and interpersonal skills, as well as their emotional self-control. Here are some top tips to help you help your child make some friends.
Keep playdates short and small.
One- or two-hour playdates are perfect when kids are just getting to know each other. Start off by inviting one or two prospective friends over to the house, preferably children who you know are the same age as your child or from the same class. Ask your child who they enjoy spending time with at school and arrange a playdate.
Your guidance during playdates can help children feel more at ease with each other, especially if these are new friends. Oversee art or cooking projects or suggest a new game that they might like to play. Try not to dominate, but simply break the ice without taking control. If your child doesn’t want you involved, know when to take a back seat and make yourself available only when the kids need you.
Develop a schedule and then get going.
Try and arrange regular playdates with the same kids on a weekly basis to develop familiarity. If things are going well, try and meet at the other child’s house or in the playground. If the playdates go really well and the kids run off independently to play, try leaving your child at someone else’s house without you, first for a short time and then for longer periods.
Have your own friends over.
Since kids learn from their parents, have your own friends over, especially in ways that include the younger generations. Have a double playdate with a friend who has kids. This is also a great way for parents to meet some of the other parents and maybe make a few new friends of their own!
Don’t force anything.
Try not to expect too much or force your child into anything. If they feel like they are being forced to make friends, your best intentions might backfire. Your child might already be a bit insecure around other children so pressure from mom and dad can fuel that insecurity.
Try and think of some fun games and ice breakers that your kids and their friends will enjoy and allow them to choose some of their own friends too! As long as your kids are happy, that’s what counts!