“How come I don’t have any friends?”
Has your child ever asked you that question? It’s not an easy one to answer. Children are often cruel to one another and their methods for choosing friends are often irrational to the adult mind.
Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix answer to make a child instantly popular. As parents, the best we can do, is guide our children in the right direction and teach them the proper skills necessary for making friends.
Read these ten simple tips with your child. Talk about how your child can implement these steps in their daily lives. Show your child by example what it means to be a good friend.
1. BE WILLING TO TAKE A CHANCE
Yes, it’s scary to go to a new class or move into a new neighborhood where you don’t know anyone. Do you feel like everyone is staring at you? Are you afraid they will laugh at you? Remind your child that someone has to take the first step. If you’re not willing to take a chance, you’ll never make any new friends.
2. FIND SOMEONE WHO LIKES THE SAME THINGS YOU DO
It’s true; some people are best friends and have nothing in common. But most people become friends because they both like to ride bicycles, go roller-skating or play computer games together. Make a list of things your child likes to do. Who do you know that likes the same things? Encourage them to spend time together.
3. LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU LIKE THEM
Remind your child that you don’t know when he’s hungry unless he tells you. No one can read minds. Other children are often just as shy or insecure as your child.
4. MAKE THEM FEEL IMPORTANT
Everybody has something they do really well. And no one ever gets enough compliments. Teach your child to appreciate other people’s strengths. It will show they really care.
5. DON’T WORRY SO MUCH
Some children are natural born worriers. It’s easy to start to wonder—does my new friend really like me? Remind your child that if they’re talking with you and spending time with you, chances are they DO like you.
6. TAKE TIME TO LISTEN AND TIME TO GIVE
Even very young children like to share the exciting moments of their day with someone. Encourage your child to listen as much as they talk. Listening to each other talk about the good things and bad is called support. A friend is the best support system you can have.
7. DON’T KEEP SCORE
Friendships aren’t always a 50-50 split. Someone always needs a little more than the other one. That’s okay. Remind your child that when they do a favor for a friend they don’t need to expect something in return.
8. ACCEPT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOU
Tell your child that best friends do not need to be twins. Friends can and should dress differently and like to do different things. Teach your child to appreciate a friend and to not try and change them.
9. LEARN HOW TO APOLOGIZE AND HOW TO FORGIVE
When your child hurts a friend’s feelings, encourage them to say, “I’m sorry.” When your child’s feelings are hurt, don’t let them hold a grudge.
10. WORK AT BEING A GOOD FRIEND
Let your child know that good friendships don’t just happen, they take work. It’s like growing a garden—if you plant some flowers and just water them once in a while, they might still live, but they wouldn’t be very pretty to look at. Take care of your friendship, feed it well, and encourage it to grow.
Friends are an important part of your child’s social training. Good friendships build self-esteem and encourages emotional growth. Make sure your child has the skills to build solid friendships, and remind them that the best way to keep a friend is to be a good one yourself!