Some children can throw themselves confidently into social situations, while others can struggle. It can be hard as a parent to know how best to support your child with making new friends and formalising friendships. If your child doesn’t appear to make friends like other children the same age, he or she may just need some help and assistance practising their social skills. An independent Pre-Prep and Nursery School in Hampstead is well known for its sense of community and friendliness and offers the following advice to parents…
- Firstly, take time to observe and understand how your child socialises
Does your child find it hard to start a conversation? Does your child appear to find it hard to be in large groups? Does your child seem to prefer observing rather than joining in? Depending on the behaviour you see will deter where to focus your attention and support.
- Model positive social behaviour
Children really do learn by example, so be conscious and mindful about how you interact with others. Your child will be watching you every time you strike up a conversation, whether it be with friends, neighbours or someone at the check-out in the supermarket. Your child will be watching how you join in, converse, negotiate and solve problems.
- Set up play and social opportunities
For smaller children, setting up a play date with just one other child is often a really good idea. For older children you could consider a larger group. The aim is to make your child feel comfortable with socialising.
- Don’t avoid the problem
If social situations are difficult for your child then don’t avoid the issue, your child will only learn to improve building relationships by tackling the issue gently. The best course of action is to gently and gradually push your child slightly beyond his/her comfort zone, into new situations with guidance and encouragement.
- Reinforce and praise
Make it exciting and rewarding to try new things, even if your child is making slow progress be sure to acknowledge their efforts and success. Remember to tell your child how proud you are of them.
It is important to remember that we are all different! Don’t compare your child to yourself or even other siblings. Everyone is unique, just because you have dozens of friends it doesn’t mean your child will too and this doesn’t mean that there is a problem. Some shyer children make a few good friends instead of having many more casual acquaintances.
I hope the above supports you with helping your child make new friends.