Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

How to help your child make friends:

5 tips to support kids in forging & keeping positive friendships.
By Motherpedia
Date: May 10 2014
Editor Rating:

Parents spend a lot of time worrying about their children’s friends. The worry begins in preschool, continues through the turbulent middle and high school years, and doesn’t even stop when children transition to university.

As parents, we worry about our children’s friends because deep down we know that friends hold as much sway over our kid’s character as we do.

So here are some tips to help your kids make and keep positive friends who reinforce the good character traits you are trying to instill.

1: Model great friendship skills

When your kids see you making phone calls and inviting friends over for visits, they will understand that they should also stay in contact with their friends.

Make sure your child knows that she is welcome to invite friends over for play dates or just to hang out. Ask pre-teens if they have called their friends recently. And take the initiative to invite your kids’ friends over for dinner and a movie from time to time.

2: Make sure your home is “the place” to hang out

Making your home kid friendly is more important than making it worthy of a Vogue Living photo shoot. Keep kid foods, like frozen pizzas and fun appetizers, on hand in case your kids bring someone home on the bus. Have a designated place that kids can hang out without worrying about important furniture or knick-knacks. And keep popular toys and movies handy.

Most importantly, whether your kids are preschoolers or middle schoolers, use this time to interact with both your kids and their friends. You never know when you might be the adult one of them trusts in a crisis one day.

3: Reasonably address the popularity issue

Even in pre-school, some kids are just more popular than others. Your mission is to help your kids and their friends understand that popularity is superficial and unimportant. Popularity becomes a pervasive issue by the end of elementary school, so be prepared to help kids understand that popularity has nothing to do with their true worth. You may want to Google current celebrities who were unpopular in school, such as Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and even Batman, Christian Bale.

4: Prepare for hard times

Friends will disagree and ultimately have heart-breaking fights. Your mission is to help your child understand if the affront he suffered was part of a pattern or simply a fluke brought on by hormones or his friend’s predictable personality quirk. Some children seem willing to break off friendships over any disagreement. It’s your job to help kids understand the difference between a friendship-ending altercation and a temporary hurt that can be mended.

If a friend has a pattern of causing trouble, then maybe these opportunities are golden moments to end a destructive relationship. However, if the offending behavior is out of character, help your child understand that growing up is hard and people sometimes say and do things they don’t mean. The disagreement is now an opportunity to learn about the healing power of forgiveness.

5: Help your child understand the difference between teasing and bullying

Teasing is part of social development. However, teasing is not usually harmful to the one being teased. Teasing is usually gentle and meant to reinforce relationships.

Bullying, on the other hand, is designed to elevate one person above another. It is never in the context of a beneficial relationship although many people are bullied by so-called “friends” and even by those they are in romantic relationships with. Your challenge is to help your child understand the difference between teasing and bullying. Bullying is never helpful or funny and is almost always non-provoked. If your child is a victim of bullying, you should help her see that any relationship with the bully is toxic.

Even if you employ every tip listed here, your child will inevitably choose some friends you don’t understand. Use your best judgment and treat them with respect. You never know who will respond to your love. And your behaviour will show your child how they should treat others.

Your example will help your kids develop the kinds of friends that are with them through the tough times. And eventually, you will feel confident that your kids know the difference between true friends and temporary acquaintances.

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