5 top tips to help your child make friends
It’s every parent’s fear – their child is lonely and nobody wants to play with them. They seem to have no friends. While you can’t make friends for your children, you can support them in the process of friendship building. Here is some all-round parenting advice in the form of five top tips to help your child in the tricky business of making and maintaining friendships.
1. Remember that you are your child’s role model when it comes to forming relationships
If you are open and warm, your child will learn to be the same. If you tend to make all the decisions when you’re with your own friends, don’t be surprised if your child’s bossy approach causes other children to give them a wide berth. Things like sharing treats, caring for relatives, remembering birthdays and sending a card when someone is ill all teach children about empathy, which is the principal ingredient in any successful friendship.
2. Always be welcoming to your children’s friends
However odd their choices might seem to you, friends are a very personal choice and not one you should ever influence by disapproval. So invite their friends to tea, or to play. Have some activities for them to do such as baking, playing dress up or creating some artwork. If you listen to them chat, you will soon discover what they have in common and why this particular friendship is blossoming. Should the friend say or do things that you aren’t happy about, don’t criticise them after they’ve left. Instead, explain to the friend at the time that this isn’t what you do in your home and they’re very welcome to be there, but you would like them to respect the way your home works.
3. Be aware of your child’s personality and the way they make friends
Some children love to be part of a group and they play happily with lots of other children. But some like a one-to-one situation; they tend to be more shy and prefer to get to know a few people well. Children and adults alike socialise in different ways: your preferred style of socialisation might not be your child’s first preference, so let them choose the friends that feel right for them.
4. Be prepared to support when friendship troubles kick in, as they surely will
Although your child’s perspective is accurate as they see the situation, they may need help in understanding how they provoked or exacerbated an argument and why their friend responded in a particular way. Teasing, which is often the first line of defence when children fall out, is hurtful, so take it seriously and, as a general rule, don’t intervene unless you think the teasing has tipped over into bullying.
5. Encourage your child to have fun in their friendships
If their home life has lots of fun, this will spill over quite naturally into their friendships outside of the home, because they will instinctively be drawn to children with a similar experience. Good friendships from childhood can last a lifetime, and little is more valuable than a shared lifetime of fun and laughter together, during good times as well as bad.