Learning how to make friends is not always easy for children. It is very common for all kids to go through stages where they may not feel comfortable in meeting new people.
While is this natural, there are ways parents can help kids to learn effective and appropriate ways to help your children to interact with their peers.
Encourage your kids to try to make one new friend. You can help your child to reach out to new people in their age group by:
• Reading stories about friends and talking about the importance of friends and how they play a positive role in the lives of the characters in the story. This can also be a great time for parents to talk about their friendships and some of the challenges they may have had when they were younger and trying to make new friends.
• Talk about how to have a conversation. This could include role-playing where Mom or Dad plays the other child. Encourage your child to follow the conversation, ask questions about what you say, and be encouraging and supportive of the communication.
• Brainstorm a list of interesting “conversation starters” to help your child have something to talk about when he or she meets new people. Give the child a chance to practice what these conversations may look like with family members and current friends.
• Have play activities where your child can invite one or two peers to a fun activity. Try a games day at your home, a trip to the park, or even a picnic in the backyard. Providing your child with a comfortable environment to start a conversation can make it much less stressful.
Remember, all children are different, and some children a just more reserved than others. Encourage friendship but don’t force it, your child may just need a bit more time to be comfortable interacting with others.
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