There are many benefits to children forming strong friendships. It has been shown that children who have a lot of friends are more confident, have higher self esteem and demonstrate a greater belief in their own abilities. Playing with friends also allows children to develop leadership qualities, improve their imagination and helps them to develop the skills needed to deal with conflict.
It has also been shown that children who don’t have friendships have a higher chance of developing mental health issues later on in life.
However, if your child is not naturally inclined to form friendships, what can be done to help them?
1. Speak to their teacher
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to make friends, it is important to make their teacher aware of the situation. They may be able to shed some light on the reasons why your child is struggling to form friendships, or may be able to take action such as putting them into groups with children that they have things in common with.
2. Include your child in social interactions
Improve your child’s communication skills by involving them in your social interactions throughout the day such as talking to neighbours or shop assistants. This will provide them with an example of how you interact, and if you also encourage them to join in it can help to build their confidence in talking to a wide variety of people, which in turn can help them to interact more with their own peer group.
3. Activities and Clubs
It has been said that shared values and interests play an important role in forming friendships, therefore it can be helpful to enrol your child in clubs and after school activities that will allow them to meet children who enjoy the same things.
4. Organise playdates at your house
If shyness is a barrier to your child making friends, it can be less intimidating for them if a playdate takes place in a familiar environment, such as your house. It can also be beneficial to organise activities that don’t require a lot of talking and are more focused on doing things which will encourage conversation to flow more naturally.
5. Don’t make comparisons
It is important to remember that everyone is unique. It can take some children longer to make friends than others so it’s important not to make comparisons between your child and their siblings and allow them to do things at their own pace.