Making Friends in School

It can be a challenge making friends in school if you are new to the school or neighborhood.  The beginning of the school year can be a lot of fun for kids as they share and exchange stories from the summer activities:  camping, fishing, making trips to see relatives, playing sports or going to camp. Seeing their friends in school is a great opportunity to share and exchange stories. But what if your child wants to make different friends from last year, or just simply make new friends?

Your child’s temperament can play a role if they tend to be shy. In addition, kids need to have the social skills to make connections with other kids. The challenge for any parent is how to help your child step out of their comfort zone and have the grace to create a relationship with another child.

For a child that is shy and perhaps introverted, helping them build social confidence can go a long way. Start out by setting examples at home.

Start at Home

A good place to help your child identify the values that are important to you is to practice at home. Talk with them about what you value most in a friendship, such as:

  • Showing respect for others
  • Playing in a fair way
  • Sharing with others
  • Talking in an encouraging and positive manner

Lead by Example

We should not underestimate how much our children are observing our behavior. When we have a good relationship with our child, we are more likely to influence them with our values. Having a good relationship with your child implies:

  • Being involved in activities together
  • Talking often (try doing the dishes together to set up for an easy conversation)
  • Showing affection for each other

This in turn will help your child seek out other children who may share the same types of values and feelings.

Be a Host

We can take opportunities to get to know other children through school activities, from neighborhood parties, sports events, art camps and other get togethers. By hosting get togethers, you can observe the type of play that other children exhibit and how they treat each other. This will help you select those friendships that you wish to promote as you help your child’s social circle grow.

Help Them Build Social Skills

In addition to helping your child build friendships, it is important that they build good social skills. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Teach your child how to start a conversation. This may be the biggest and earliest hurdle as we all want to put our best foot forward. Helping your child identify their interests so they can seek out children with similar interests can be the beginning for starting a conversation.
  • Teach them how to keep a conversation going by exchanging ideas and opinions, acknowledging that topics and other ideas may change as the conversation progresses.
  • Teach them how to read facial gestures so they can be empathetic with the other kid. By being understanding, they can foster a deeper relationship.
  • Teach them how to recognize pauses in the conversation so they can give the other kid an opportunity to talk.
  • Teach them how loud or soft-spoken they need to be depending on the setting. For example, yelling may be common when playing at the playground, but being soft-spoken may be better when talking one on one.
  • Teach your child about personal space and keeping their hands to themselves. Some kids get excited when they are trying to make new friends and tend to invade personal space. They should learn that other children may not feel comfortable with that type of action.

All these suggestions will need to be practiced at home, so your child learns these skills and becomes confident. Pretend play and pretend scenarios can be a good place to start!


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