Making Friends for the Better All Year Long
Many of us remember some of our very first friends, often happening around the first day of school. The new environment can be oh-so nerve-wracking, but it was always better facing the new year together with companions. Making friends can be a complex process because we often face rejection, varying perspectives, and conflicts. All are essential to your child’s development and learning. Supporting your child’s friendships along the way can be key for healthy future adult relationships.
Let’s Be Friends. It’s Good for You!
“Hi. My name is Cassie. What’s yours?” No matter how your child starts out with a new friend, you can rest assured that these early relationships will benefit your child for a lifetime. Building friendships can boost self-esteem, decrease stress, enhances emotional development, and improves social, emotional, and language skills. Friends have a knack for providing moral support in a variety of situations and help us cope with problems to find resolutions. We all want to make friends, so don’t be afraid to initiate the first step!
The “How To” in Making Friends
When your child makes friends, it often happens naturally, especially when your child becomes familiar with peers in a classroom setting. Anxiety, shyness, introversion, and various mental/physical conditions can be reasons why your kiddo struggles long term with making friends. As a parent, you can help your child identify similar interests with other kids. You can practice sharing with them, encourage clubs or sports, and help them rehearse the first step in just saying “hello.”
When concerned, talk to your child. It can make a huge difference. Listen to what they have to tell you about how they are feeling or where they are struggling. problem solve where you can to motivate your child to act. Also, consider that you are the primary role model for your child. How you interact with others is an indicator of how your child will interact.
Ultimately, all kids build relationships differently. Some kids have many friends while others have one or two close friends. At the end of the day, your kiddo will make friends on their own accord, but you can always offer guidance.
Remember what it was like as a child in school. The relationships that you formed with your peers often varied from person to person. You had best friends, acquaintances, rivals, and even enemies that lurked the hallways. It’s an exciting and overwhelming time that can be filled with both positivity and negativity such as bullying behaviors. Having unpleasant experiences with other kids is normal, but we want to make sure that all parents are able to equip their kiddos with the tools they need to deal with challenges when among peers.
Fostering positive relationships in making friends is a step towards preventing bullying. Teach your child to share, use manners, listen, and learn empathy. How does it feel in your shoes? It’s a good question that many of us should consider from time to time. If you are around your child’s friends, you can praise positive behaviors that they engage with. As we all know, it’s not possible to change every person’s behavior. There will always be conflicts and people that we simply do not get along with.
When we see our kiddos faced with a problematic social situation, we can help by problem-solving. Ask questions around how to improve the relationship even if it is done in a small way. Can we help the shy child by inviting them to a party? Can we avoid name-calling back when Jimmy calls you Four Eyes? Understanding the ways to make the best of circumstances will enable your child to build confidence and have successful friendships for a lifetime.
Contact us today with concerns about your child’s development or interactions with others.