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.
One "Hi" at a time
If your kids are especially shy, make a plan to help them get comfortable making new friends. Set small, daily goals — the first step might be to encourage them to smile and greet one or two new people each day. Once they've mastered this, up the ante a bit and have them add a conversation starter (such as a question about the other person's day or a compliment).
Just add drama
Since most social skills are learned by watching and imitating others, it makes sense to role-play the kinds of social situations that make your children uncomfortable or nervous. You might feel silly acting out an interaction between kids, but it really does help your children to practice in a safe place. Try several possible responses so that they understand there can be many outcomes to any interaction. If your children want to confront a friend who hurt their feelings, for instance, role-play an encounter where the other child apologizes, and another where the child continues to tease them. Talk about what the next step should be in each situation.
Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative
When you see your children making a kind gesture, make sure to praise them for it. “That was nice of you to give Joe another turn after he dropped the ball. That’s being a good friend.”
You’ve told your children what makes a good friend — now’s it’s time to talk about what will stop a friendship in its tracks. Teach them not to brag, put others down, be a sore loser, or hog conversations. If you hear them doing any of these things, gently remind them that a good friend doesn’t do that. Also ask your children how they think their friend responded. “How do you think that made him feel? Does it look like he’s happy?” It’s important for kids to understand the power they have on others, and this is a good way for yours to start.