Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will Your Child Make New Friends This Summer? Older Children: Part 1

Will Your Child Make New Friends This Summer?

Top tips on helping little ones learn how to recognize and be a good friend.
By GreatSchools Staff

Summer may be a child's idea of heaven — but it can also be a social minefield with kids starting new camps and summer internships. Whether you're raising a shrinking violet or a social butterfly, learn how you can help your younger child make friends.

Beyond manners

The unstructured days of summer can be hard for kids who struggle socially. But with the right support, they can also be a blessing. Whether your children are having trouble with bullying or just feel left out of the playground social scene, summer can be a great opportunity to make new friends and build social confidence. All of which will help when they go back to school in the fall.

What’s this got to do with you? Well, kids learn friendship skills by watching other people, and parents are the first and most important role models. But strong social skills go beyond teaching basic manners, of course. They include things like having empathy, showing an interest in others, starting conversations, giving compliments, and taking turns.

Here are some simple steps to build on your kids' friendship skills:

What's a friend anyway?

Don’t assume your children know what being a good friend entails. Talk about taking turns, sharing, helping and showing an interest in others and how these will help peers and classmates feel good and want to spend time with them. If you see examples of others doing these things, point them out to your children. “See how that girl let her friend have a turn with the jump rope? That’s a nice thing to do for a friend.”

Mingle more

The more your children interact with others, the better they’ll get at it. And having them meet a wide variety of people in different situations will give them lots of opportunities to practice under different circumstances. Even if your family is planning to stay home this summer, make sure your kids get out to places where they'll meet other kids — for example, the playground, the public pool, or the library. If they’re going to camp or taking classes, encourage them to talk to new kids and strike up friendships.


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