>Helping Your Child Make Friends
I was recently approached by a friend regarding her child’s social skills.
“Lila” is a sweet child, but is having difficulty making and sustaining friendships.
Being such good friends we had a long chat, a heart to heart … We worked together and developed a “to-do list of sorts”: Ways in which this mum – my friend – could support and encourage her child.
It was a true collaboration … and I can’t wait to see what happens as a result!
I hope that you find what follows useful … and please add to/suggest any additional activities, links & books to read!
Supporting the Shy Child
(A) At Home With Family:
- Observe Lila – What do you see? What do you hear? What you you feel (e.g. What’s your gut telling you?)?
- Listen to Lila – What do you see? What do you hear? What you you feel (e.g. What’s your gut telling you?)?
- Offer support and guidance. Talk with Lila about friends and friendship. e.g. What does friendship look like? What makes a good friend? How to be a friend.
- Role play; rehearse social skills (e.g. speaking & listening skills/games; don’t forget about body language!)
- Read friendship themed books
- Make this an area of focus but remain relaxed – approach every talk/activity with a cool, “light hearted” confidence
(B) At Home With Friends:
- Invite one or two of her classmates over for a playdate – She may be more comfortable on her home turf
- Model (as a parent) friendship/having friends over – At times allow Lila to see you chatting, sharing & having fun with your friends
(C) At School:
- Talk to Lila’s teacher(s) at school. Voice your concerns. Is Lila’s teacher seeing the same thing at school & if so what support can be provided?
- In an effort to help Lila develop her social skills and come out of her shell ask the teacher to consider his/her seating plan and group work. Is it possible to ensure that Lila is placed with students that she gets along with, who are supportive and friendly? Can she sit with those students who model good social skills?
(D) After School:
- Carpool! What a great opportunity for Lila to get to know and talk to other children in a safe environment. It’s also another opportunity for mum to observe her daughter’s social behaviour.
- What are Lila’s hobbies and interests? Enroll her in one or two clubs or sports activities after school. (Don’t overload Lila, but provide as many opportunities as possible.)
- Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t overwhelm Lila and put too much in place all at once. Let common sense be your guide. Trust your gut. You are the mum and no one knows your child better than you.
- Don’t push or panic. Be clam, happy and supportive around Lila. Your confidence will rub off on her! Inspire!
Lila’s mum and I felt so much better after this brainstorming session … I certainly hope that it proves useful and provides a starting point for other s as well.
Reading List: Books to read with your child:
Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Muno
Best Friends by Kim Anderson
The Different Dragon, Jennifer Bryan
Duck at the Door, Jackie Urbanovic
A Friend, Anette Bley
The Hare With Many Friends, Aesop’s Fable
How to be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown [Little, Brown Young Readers, 2001]
Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman
The Lonely Little Monster‚ by Andi Green
Making New Friends, by Jacqueline H. Blumenstock and David C. Pool
My Friend and I, by Lisa Jahn-Clough
Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, Aaron Blabey
Penguin, Polly Dunbar
Rainstorm, Barbara Lehman
Regards To The Man In The Moon, Ezra Jack Keats
This is Our House, Michael Rosen
Wemberly Worried, Kevin Henkes
What are Friends For, Sally Grindley
When Giants Come to Play, Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes