How to help your child make friends

In today’s world, friendship “groups” are so important. I can’t tell you how many mums and dads call me and say;

Can you help my son/daughter – she seems to have so much trouble finding a friendship group – there must be something wrong with her!

Many friendship groups begin in preschool or reception class, but they become more and more important as the child matures. One of the main questions I ask a child when he comes to my clinic is “Who is your best friend? What’s his name?” and I used to get a reply like: “Oh his name is George, and we have great fun together we both like collecting football cards!”  However, these days the answer is usually: “I don’t have a best friend, I’m friends with lots of people”.

It’s interesting isn’t it?  How things have changed over the years!

Friendship Groups

But just how hard is it to manage group friendships, especially for a five -year old?

It involves more advanced social skills than just having a single friendship. Research has shown that in a study of year 1 children, they found that children who belonged to a social “group” were kinder, happier and seemed more popular than a child who had, say, only one to one friendships. However, it appears that those with one to one friendship’s were better off than those who had NO friends.

Parents can “help” children find their tribe.

As a mum or dad, we can try and find some activities and interests that our children like to do. Sports activities and clubs are an obvious one – but there are lots of others including dancing, singing, gymnastics, etc..

Children feel like they “belong” when they meet a group of likeminded people. I remember my own daughter when she first went to school in Spain – she couldn’t speak the language and yet once she found a couple of girls and boys who liked the same things as she did she finally found her friends, and thirty-four years later they are still friends!

Children need to know “HOW” to make friends. Never tell your child to go up to a group of kids and say: “Can I play?” that invites the answer “NO!” not because they don’t want your child in their group but she has probably just interrupted a good game! Instead, persuade your child to just simply stand on the edge of the groups game and watch quietly for a while then maybe make some positive remarks about the game – then they are more likely to invite him or her in!

One mum who called me at my clinic was really worried about her daughter because she said she had real trouble making friends and quite often came home crying saying that no one wanted to play with her.

It’s important that children are able to make friends and socialise – it’s all part of their natural development, and it aids their self esteem and confidence. They learn how to cope with other children’s emotions and learn how to be empathetic. The mum says:

“Elaine helped my daughter with some therapy, teaching her some really good techniques to help her self-esteem. Nicole joined a girl’s football team and absolutely thrived after that! Sports are really good apparently for children to learn how to behave in a team and respect other’s feelings and opinions. All the sessions were done online too!”

Mary Kidd-Johnstone, Berkshire

So, how do I know my child is struggling with making friends?

  • The child comes home crying that no one wants to be friends with him/her
  • You notice your child at a children’s party is not being included in the games
  • Your child doesn’t get invited to many birthday parties
  • Your child constantly cries about having no friends

Sports activities are great for friendship building but also for children who struggle with ADHD as it helps them concentrate and focus! There is also research that proves that being part of a sports team can help prevent substance abuse and other risky behaviours as they get older.

So, if your child is having friendship issues and you feel he or she may need a bit of help in building his/ her self-esteem or confidence do take a look at my website, or even get in contact with me so we can have a chat. No obligation!

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