No parent wants their child to come home and say nobody will play with them, but unfortunately it happens. And it’s heartbreaking.
There are SO many things that affect how kids make friends. Relationships at home can be a big component, along with individual character traits and experience.
Here are a few things to help ease kids into making friends.
- Role play with kids at home. It’s a safe environment- your kids know you love them. Take turns pretending to be the child wanting to make a friend. “What’s your name? Would you like to play with me?” Sometimes it’s a matter of just knowing what to say. At home, kids get used to just playing together without introductions or asking.
- Talk to kids about listening. People like to talk about themselves and when you’re looking for friends, it can help others open up to you if you’re willing to listen to what they have to say instead of dominating the conversation.
- Look for opportunities to play one-on-one or in small groups. It’s a good way to help kids find a comfortable footing before they’re in a bigger crowd.
- Work on sharing. It’s hard to share, for some kids more than others. Most kids have a hard time playing with kids who are more reluctant to share. This doesn’t mean they have to share everything- just work to find something that’s they’re okay with others playing with.
- Help kids think about how others might feel. Example: You won the game so you’re really excited, but your friend is sad and having a hard time because they lost. How can you be happy about winning but still be courteous to your friend? Could you try to help them be happy too or at least not make them feel worse?
- Teach kids to consider situations when they’re looking for kids to play with. Are they in the middle of a game or just getting started? Do they seem like they’re playing nicely or would you be more comfortable looking for someone else to join? Do you see any other kids looking for someone to talk to? There might be others who are feeling left out or awkward that would love having someone to play with.
- Work with kids to avoid overly big reactions that might make other kids uncomfortable. Part of this could be as simple as avoiding problematic situations in the first place.
- Try to create a happy, stable environment at home. Life is full of ups and downs but having a secure foundation to fall back on can help kids feel more confident, which can help them form true friendships.
Has your child struggled with making friends? What has helped at your house?