To some children, making friends comes very naturally. They seem to always be surrounded by others and interact very well. For other children, this can be more of a challenge. They’re not sure what to say or how to act or may be lacking self confidence. Friendships are an integral part of a well-balanced life and positive social interactions. Helping your child to develop these essential skills can have a long-lasting effect and benefit them throughout their lives.
- Be a positive role model: Set a good example for your children by letting them see how you interact with others. Show support for friends and family, be compassionate, and work through challenges in a healthy way. Model appropriate behaviors for being a friend.
- Help them to problem solve: It can be tempting to want to fix everything and protect your child from getting hurt, but this does not help them in the long run. Rather than solving problems for them, work together to come up with solutions. Discuss how to respond to challenging situations, appropriate responses, and different ways they can approach things. Encourage them to work things out but be ready to step in should things become more serious.
- Plan play dates: Invite one or two children over to your home to play. This way your child can put in place some of the skills they have been working on in a safer, more comfortable environment. Find out who they like spending time with and activities they enjoy. Be there to support problem solving and provide small prompts to help them along if necessary.
- Capitalize on teachable moments: Look for opportunities to discuss friendships through books, movies, television shows, or things you see in the community. This can be a great way to for kids to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and responses. Talk about what happened and different scenarios for dealing with the situation. Guide them in building social skills and understanding how to effectively interact with others and respond in various situations.
- Teach about bullying: Educate your child on what it means to be a bully and to be bullied. Raising their awareness can help them to be more alert to these situations and tailor their own behavior so they are not bullying others. It can also help them to make friends by understanding how to be a better friend.
- Seek counseling: If you fear that your child’s social skills are inhibiting their ability to make and keep friends, consider counseling. A counselor can work with your child to build these skills, use their strengths, and overcome weaknesses. They can offer additional support and strategies for social interactions and behavior. In addition, they can help to get to the root of problems that you may have been unaware of and provide solutions.
All parents want their children to thrive and be happy. With the right support and interventions, they can guide their child’s development and help them to flourish. If your child is struggling, the professionals at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling are here to help. Trained to meet the social, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of children, counselors can work with your child on a wide range of issues to promote positive growth and wellbeing. Contact Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at 1-800-305-2089 to find out more about our counseling or set up an appointment.