Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Friends

With school starting back many children will be under a lot of stress. As adults, we forget how hard it is to go up and introduce yourself to a total stranger. If we have no one to talk to or play with we have to spend the entire day alone, which is even less fun.

Can parents help their children to make friends? Do you have to bribe other children to play with your child? Of course not! Here are some ideas to help your child build up confidence and learn to make friends.

1) Give your child plenty of opportunities to play with other children. You child needs to spend time with children her own age, older than her and younger than her. If your child is not currently enrolled in child care or preschool you can still help her meet other kids. Arrange play dates with friend's kids, get involved in a playgroup, take a class together or just go to the park. This will give your child a chance to interact with other kids while still under your supervision.

2) Be patient! This can not be stressed enough. All children do not interact the same. You child may prefer to sit back and watch the other children before joining in, or he may just go right over and play with other kids. Either way is acceptable. Do not force your child to play with other children, it will only cause undue stress on all of the children involved.

3) Talk to your child about friends. Tell her about your friends and how happy you are when you are together. Let her see you having fun with friends. Ask her about her friends. Whom did she enjoy playing with at the park today? How did you feel when the boy took your book today? How could you have prevented that from happening? What kind of activities do you like to do with your friends?

4) Try not to interfere. If your child and another child are have a disagreement, do not jump right up and "take care of it". Allowing children to solve their own social problems is very important. Kids learn about rules by playing with others. At home we may "bend the rules" a bit for our kids but friends are not always so willing. They know the rules and what they expect. If your child and another child are in danger of hurting one another or the situation has escalated to a point that they can not resolve it, you need to assist them. A child can not be at their best socially until they are allowed to interact pleasantly and learn to compromise with other kids.

5) Play with your child like a child. Get down on the floor and have a tea party or play cars with your children. This will give you an opportunity to see how your child interacts with other children during play time. Does she boss you around? Does he always knock over your block tower? If the children are interacting this way with you, it is fair to assume that they will also interact this way with kids. Help your child to understand taking turns, being fair and being a good friend.

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