Sit Down and Talk
We cannot expect to see change happen with our children unless we know what is going on with them. Talking to children about making friends and why they may be struggling is most effective if the focus is on creating a balanced, two-way communication — we don’t want them to feel imposed upon or talked at. This focus will allow parents and children to tell each other whatever is on their minds.
Lead by Example
Telling children to face their fears is easy to say if we do not lead by example. But, we can take it one step further and encourage them to do as we do, which is leading by example and tackle something that we find difficult.
Doing the above often and consistently in front of our kids solidifies the concept for them and helps them gather enough courage to try to face their obstacles; in this case, making new friends. And if at first they fail, give them support and strength to keep on trying (arguably, a lesson just as important as facing fears in the first place).
Find a Hobby or Sport They Enjoy
Socializing at sports events or at other hobby meeting points helps children get involved with their peers and facilitates socialization. Making friends this way is quite natural and takes less effort! The most important thing is to find a hobby or sport they enjoy. In addition, team sports offer motivation to work together in a group and can encourage bravery and adventure in kids. What a great experience!
Throw a Party
Perhaps the easiest way to make friends, however, is to meet them at parties. Parents can make it happen by organizing parties for their kids. Stick with themes they like best, as it will help them ease into the whole thing and not make them feel anxious. Superheroes are often a good way to let children interact with each other, as every child has his/her own favorite. And make sure that there are plenty of games for children to enjoy if you want them to mingle!
Provide Guidance, Not Interference
It’s important for children to understand that gaining a new friend isn’t always easy, and it will take effort. Sometimes, there are bumps along the way. Other kids, like grown-ups, are not always kind. But parents are there to observe how they behave and step in when assistance is necessary. With a few nudges here and there, parents can help children navigate sticky social situations without interfering with their learning process. And with time, children will learn to do so on their own.
Building up kids’ courage and confidence and teaching them to get along with others is an important part of parenting. By communicating with our kids, leading by example, getting them involved in sports and hobbies they enjoy, and/or throwing them parties that encourage happy mingling, parents can help children do just that.
What social activities does your child enjoy the most? The more social-boosting ideas for littles the better!
Contributed by Tracey Clayton: Tracey Clayton is a full-time mom of three girls, and she loves spending quality time with them. When she organized a magical fairy birthday party for her eldest daughter, she realized that parties have a huge effect on children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”