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Help your child make friends

If your child is a bit of a loner and seems shy or reluctant to make friends, these tips can help:

Get involved

Chat to other parents at school meetings or sport functions and organise playdates. Your child’s teacher can help you get in touch with other parents. Keep playdates small by inviting just one or two children your child knows and who are around her age. Organise games and activities she enjoys and is good at.

Think outside the box

Enrol her in extra-mural activities, like sport clubs or even something more creative. This will give her opportunities to interact with children her own age. It will also provide a common interest and give the children something to talk about.

Build self-image

Ask her what she thinks her strengths are, what she’s good at and listen without criticising. Also, give your suggestions: Talk about what a good friend she would make because of these things.

The importance of being kind

Teach her to be nice to her classmates. Explain that she won’t become friends with everyone and that this is okay. Talk about choosing friends wisely. Good friends listen to each other, don’t hurt each other’s feelings, help each other solve problems, can disagree without being hurtful, are dependable and trustworthy and give each other room to change.

Try not to expect too much

If your child feels she’s being forced to make friends, your best intentions can backfire. She’s probably already insecure around other children and pressure from you can make that insecurity worse.

Get help if you sense a real problem

Shyness or difficulty making friends in childhood is normal, but a few red flags could indicate something else is going on. If your child rarely holds eye contact, is unusually withdrawn, throws tantrums or cries whenever other children are around, or seems terrified of going to school or the playground, talk to your paediatrician.

Image: Freepik

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