For quieter, shy children, making friends is terrifying. Most of the time, they simply give up and look longingly at other children playing together. To get shy children to make the first step is very challenging, but extremely worthwhile in the end.
Here are some fundamental ways to help children make new friends and keep those friendships:
· Encourage your child to be nice to others first.
Get him/her to offer to share something with xxx. Say something very short and simple, like ‘Want to play this toy together?’ or ‘Want to read together?’ That’s all for the first step. Remember, shy children are afraid of rejections, but you can help them learn that ‘Asking’ isn’t that difficult.
And if xxx does reject your child, tell him/her it’s not their fault. Children need to hear this! Then move on to the next nice kid your child wants to be friends with. Chances are, children like to make new friends and will say ‘yes’ to playing or reading together!
· The only way to have a friend is to be one.
Being a good friend means accepting quirks and differences. Having similar interests makes it easy to understand each other and spend time together. Being different adds flavor to the friendship.
Many children start to dislike their friends once they realize their friends do not agree with them all the time. (Assuming the disagreements are only matters of preference.) But good friends accept one another, warts and all, and still have fun together. Help your child learn to accept differences and welcome authenticity in their friends.
“If you appreciate what’s different about each other, you and your friend will have more freedom to be yourselves. You won’t have to put on an act because you both accept each other for who you are.”
The Care and Keeping of Friends (American Girl Library)
· Do activities together
Make special friendship bands, or a bookmark with your child’s friend’s favourite book titles printed across. Or help start a collection of things they both like – starting a ‘Things We Love’ scrapbook journal. Help them source for pictures of trains or turtles, or collect special buttons, or scribble their favourite songs in the book …
· Fight fair
Fights are inevitable. Assure your child that it’s quite normal for friends to fight, but they must work out a solution if they want to stay friends.
- Go back to what started the fight.
- Tell both sides to pay attention and listen.
- Who said what to make the other person uncomfortable? Does everyone understand what he/she did wrong? Will he/she apologize? Will they forgive each other for the specific issue? (Focus on the issue, not on the person.)
- Make up with pie, or a special Art & Craft. Everybody will feel sooooo much better afterwards.
Sometimes friendships change. Every friendship a child has, no matter how long it lasts, is a learning experience. It teaches us about ourselves and other people, and it helps us become a better friend.
A better friend to our next friend.
(Google them or borrow from our national libraries!)
1) The Care and Keeping of Friends American Girl Library
2) How to Deal with Friends Richard Powell
3) Making Friends (Winnie the Pooh) Video recording
4) How to Be A Friend: a guide to making friends and keeping them Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown