Could Your Child Use Some Help Making Friends?
Do you think your son needs a little help making friends? Perhaps he is a bit shy, or not very interested in meeting new people? Does he have a small group of friends and you want him to widen his circle?
Parents know that learning how to make friends is an
important skill, one that their children will need to develop and use all of
their lives. How can you
help your child develop these skills? Here are some tips:
and respect your child’s personality.
A child who prefers spending time playing or reading by himself may be
more introverted and happy with more limited social interaction. Alternatively, a child may want to play
with others, but doesn’t know how to engage with them. Take stock of your
child’s social instincts before trying to help. As Margaret Hannah, director of the Freedman Center for
Child and Family Development reminds us, if your child takes a while to warm up
to people, “it’s not something wrong, it’s who they are”. Rather than focusing on changing your
shy or introverted child, Hannah suggests that parents help your child
- Resist the temptation to place your own social expectations on your child. Just because you may be extroverted this doesn’t mean your child needs to be. Don’t force them to engage if they are not ready, or label them as “shy” publicly. It can make them feel even more uncomfortable and less willing to try.
- Talk with
his teachers. Your child’s
teachers can give you a good sense of how he interacts with his peers during
the school day, and suggest particular classmates with whom he might be better
suited for play dates.
one-on-one play dates with classmates who have similar interests. If your
son would be more comfortable in your home, then schedule the play date
there. Before the play date, talk
with him about the things he can do with his classmate when he comes to visit.
If necessary, you can help them get started, by suggesting an activity, but
step away as soon as possible so that they can play together without you.
- Talk with
other parents and caregivers. Let them know that your son may need more
time to adjust to a new situation so that they aren’t impatient or
judgmental. Be sure to give your
caregiver pointers as to how to help your son adjust and feel comfortable.
Above all, don’t worry too much about this! Helping your child stretch a
little out of their social comfort zone is a good idea, but don’t loose sight
of the most important goal: that they learn to be comfortable with who they