We can all remember our first childhood friend. The one we feel excited to see in the school. We sit together, play together, and whatnot. But not every child is good at developing friendships. Especially as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, your child might need your help to make friends.
• Friendship plays a vital part in the healthy development of your child. It promotes happy feelings and reduces stress, thereby working as a positive influence on your children's all-around wellness and wellbeing.
•Friendship helps kids build self-esteem and deter bullies. However, it also makes it easier to cope if bullying does occur.
•It empowers kids by providing a sense of belonging and identity.
•Friendship teaches important skills like collaboration, conflict resolving skills and builds social competence.
What more, you need! Friendship is one of the most important relationships people have at almost every age. Have conversations with your kids to get an idea about how well they are doing with friends.
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There are several reasons kids may have trouble making friends. Let's see some of them:
Building friendship partially depends on your child's emotional and self-regulation skills. A child struggling with a lack of adequate impulse control or behaving in a way that antagonizes others can have a hard time making friends. But making and keeping friends is much more of a skill that can be learned and here is where you as a parent can help them.
1. Understand how your child feels about friendship and socializing
Once you have an idea of how your child feels about friendship, are they even content or do they feel stuck, you can help them develop the social skills need to build:
Starting from initiating conversation to asking questions to maintain a conversation is a supreme skill when it comes to making friends. Make your child learn how to efficiently take cues from others when interacting. Till then give them some example questions to ask like "What are your hobbies?", " which subject interests you the most?", etc. Use role-playing, put up a conversation, and get them into practice.
Conversations partially depend on how good a person is at listening. It also helps to empathize with others. Listening properly and then showing compassion and concern can aid in building friendship a lot easier. Coach your child on how to listen and respond.
Your child might need to learn how to apologize, how to respectfully argue with a friend, how to be happy for a friend's accomplishments, how to make amendments in a friendship, and many more. Help them with these.
Sharing is also a good skill to kick start their friendship journey. It acts as a self-propagating mechanism to build trust that acts as a social lubricant in making friends. Tell them to share the spotlight, let others be in the high beam sometimes. Also, make them practice kindness.
2. Look for opportunities to make them meet their peers
If your child doesn't have friends, maybe the reason is that they did not have enough chances to make them. Especially, in times of Covid-19 getting involved in activities with children of their age is difficult. Look for different ways to get your child involved in making online communities or participate in school groups, etc. These can help them to connect and make friends.
3. Encourage them to take initiative
Your child can feel vulnerable while taking initiative. Introduce them with children around their age and make them understand that it doesn't have to be intimidating to meet new people. Tell them they never know who can turn into their lifelong friend, so never underestimate taking initiative.
4. Teach them how to look approachable
The first impression almost sets the stage for further communications. Being approachable can help your kid get more chances to be a part of conversations. Just a generous smile or a head nod can make other children know that you are available for interactions. Teach them how to validate others' feelings which makes it easier to turn people into friends.
You as a parent mustn't try to place too many of your social expectations on your child. Take one step at a time and acknowledge that friendship can look different for different children. It's important to give your child a sense of autonomy. Make them understand that there are ups and downs, offer some tips and follow-up.
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