I was in a Facebook group geared towards moms recently when a thread popped up about making friends.
Sometimes it’s super easy. You meet someone and everything just clicks. The conversation flows easily. You have a lot in common. And you have personalities that blend well together.
Other times, it can be hard. You feel like no one is into the same things you’re into and it’s hard to find someone you can connect with.
This is a reality for us as moms and for our children.
As moms, we want our children to have friends that they get on with famously. The ones that seem to fit together perfectly, like puzzle pieces.
As homeschool moms, this is something we are even more adamant about. We want to make sure our children have plenty of opportunities to socialize and make friends.
But what do we do when our kids genuinely struggle to make friends?
After all, even though humans are naturally social creatures, that doesn’t mean that each of us, as individuals, find so it easy to socialize.
In fact, making friends depends a good deal on life skills such as being able to hold a conversation and having basic interpersonal skills.
Another thing that can come into play is having the ability to control (and identify) emotions.
With that in mind, here are a few tips on helping kids to make friends:
Give them plenty of opportunities to be around kids
The main thing you want to do when helping your kid make friends is to give them plenty of opportunities to make friends. Go to the park or playground. Spend time at the library. Attend community events. Play in the neighborhood. Join groups and clubs that they enjoy. By getting your kids out of the house and involved in various activities, they will be able to meet and interact with other kids – especially ones who might have similar interests.
Teach Them Conversational Skills
Being able to hold a conversation is a big part of making friends. Teach kids about the listening and talking aspects of having a conversation. Teach them that a good conversation is balanced. They shouldn’t hog the conversation. Instead, they should allow the other person to speak. Conversely, they shouldn’t spend the entire time listening. They should share things about themselves as well.
Teach them about emotional control
When interacting with others, things don’t always go the way we imagined. Sometimes we can become upset, flustered, frustrated, angry, or sad. And while we are all free to feel those emotions, we also need to be able to regulate them. Talk to your kids about self-control and teach them coping strategies they can use if they are prone to being overcome by their emotions. It can also help to teach them how to look out for moments when other kids are having trouble with their emotions and go over what is and is not an appropriate reaction in those situations.
It can also help to do a bit of role-playing of tricky situations. Especially if you’ve observed certain situations crop up fairly often. For example, you could role-play what to do when kids are playing a game and your child wants to join in. Or what to do when your child sees another child playing by themselves and wants to introduce him or herself. You could roleplay when your child wants to play one game, but other kids do not. You could also roleplay a situation where your child wants to play with a kid that would rather play alone.
Let them work things out
As moms, we often want to swoop in when we see things going south. Rather than automatically intervene, stand back and let your child work things out. Of course, be ready to step in if things get out of control, but give them the chance to practice their social skills on their own.
These are just a few tips on how to help your kids make friends. I hope it helps them to build healthy friendships that will last a lifetime!
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