Making friends is an important life skill, and the earlier you can teach your child the better! While you’ve likely already started on some skills that will be helpful, like teaching them to share, there are some specific ways you can teach your child about making friends. Here are just a few ways you can help your child prepare to meet new people and build thriving friendships!
1. Act out making friends at home
Before you start pushing your child to make friends with other kids in their school, daycare, or Sunday school class, give them a chance to role play with you! Talk to them about good social habits, and show them how it’s done in your own conversations. Good things to emphasize are asking questions, saying kind things about the other person, and trying to remember the other person’s name. In addition to these important parts of making a new friend, talk to them about what qualities make someone a good friend. That way, they can watch for those qualities in other kids, and work on developing those qualities themselves!
2. Provide lots of opportunities for them to practice
Now that your child has had the chance to practice playing and asking questions with you, it’s time for them to get some real-world practice! If your child is shy, it may be a good idea to start with a playdate at your home, so they can get comfortable with socializing in a known, safe environment. If your child is more outgoing, going to the park or attending a library event could also be good fits, giving them the opportunity to meet more people at once. You know your child best, so based on their comfort level with people you can make the call! After the planned social activity, ask them how they think it went and what they learned about their new friends. You may be surprised how much they remember!
3. Be intentional about boosting your child’s self-confidence
Whether they make lots of new friends very quickly or struggle for a while, it’s important your child knows they can count on you! By being intentional about encouraging your child and boosting their self-confidence, you can help them recover from rejection and get ready to get back out there. Remind them of things they are good at, and encourage them to continue meeting new people. It’s okay if the first couple of kids they try to become friends with aren’t great fits! Let your child know you love them no matter what, and you’re proud of them for trying.
Now, you’re ready to start teaching your child about making friends!