Developing friendships and good relationships with peers is an important social skill that children need. Great friendships in school will not only make their school days enjoyable but also be a strong support throughout adulthood.
However, building and maintaining good friendships does not come naturally to every child. Parents, therefore, need to play a role in developing this important life skill in their children from a young age.
1. Show them how to do it!
Children learn by copying their parents. Particularly during the preschool years, they learn social skills by imitating the adults around them. So, model the behaviour you would like to see in your child. Let him observe how you treat your friends. Also, let him see how you initiate conversations with strangers in public, for example, at a party or during a train journey.
If your child sees you ill-treating a person, then he gets the message that it is an acceptable behaviour. So be cautious how you treat people.
2. Help her develop a positive attitude
Everyone loves to be friendly with positive people. Encourage positive attitude in your child by teaching her to look at positive aspects even in a negative situation.
3. Cultivate his interests
Think about how quickly you became friends with that person you met on a flight, who was equally passionate about golf as you are! Most friendships are based around shared interests.
Encourage your child to try various activities and explore his interests. Involving in many pursuits helps children meet different people and form friendships.
4. Build her communication skills
Your child may lack the communication skills to break the ice and start a conversation with strangers. You could help by role-playing opening sentences to get the dialogue going.
5. Work on his manners
Nobody likes to be around a rude person. Teach your child to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Train him how to greet adults and other children in different situations.
6. Boost her confidence
Confidence will help your child win friends easily; for, people love to be friends with a confident person. Impart lessons on confidence using practical situations. Take her to places that children frequent, such as a park. Invite children in your neighbourhood for play dates so that your child can meet new friends in the comfort of her own home. You can also send her on play dates with other children so that she will gain confidence to meet others in different environments.
Ultimately, it is important to not force a child to be ‘popular’ and have as many friends as possible. It is perfectly okay if your child has one or two good friends rather than a large group. Every child is different, and if your child prefers to have a single friend he has every right to do so. All he needs to know is how to maintain good relationships.