What to do if your child is struggling to make friends

Starting a new school or even going to big school for the first time is not easy. And while some kids stroll in without a problem, others can struggle to adjust to the new change. One of the most important and enjoyable parts of school life is making new friends, but, unfortunately, some children can find this difficult.

By the end of the first term , most kids will have established some form of friendships, but what if they haven’t? Here are five handy tips to help your struggling child:

Keep an eye out for bullying

If your child frequently comes home saying, 'so-and-so was mean to me' or 'nobody would play with me in yard', there might be an underlying issue. At this stage you will need to watch out for bullying - whether your child is a bully or they themselves are being bullied. However, you also need to be aware that it is not uncommon for kids to come home and say they had to play by themselves in school even though they didn’t. Most simply forget what they got up to, so try to delve a little deeper by asking direct questions like ‘was Sarah not in today’ or ‘did you not play with John?’

Teach them how to have a conversation

One of the most effective ways of establishing a solid friendship is by being able to communicate effectively to other people. This means you need to show and teach your child how they can strike up and maintain a conversation. When you are sitting around the dinner table, enjoy chats about the school day or what your little one got up to while you were at work. By doing this you will be showing them conversation techniques that they can take with them to the classroom.

Organise play dates

If your child is struggling to establish friendships it could be simply because they are shy and don’t like large crowds. If this sounds like your child, they might benefit from a one-on-one play date. Ask them who they would like to call to the house and organise it with the other child’s parents. Your little one might feel more at ease when at home and once they have one friend, it is a lot easier for them to make more.

Don’t worry about it

Make sure you don’t make a big deal about the fact that they are struggling to make friends. Not only is this not going to do any good, but they might develop a complex about the situation, which will only make it worse.

Be a good friend yourself

You are your child’s biggest role model so make sure you are a good friend yourself. Don’t bad mouth people, ignore, complain or criticise – you will only be teaching your child bad social habits. Instead offer compliments, use manners, listen and laugh. 

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