30th July is International Friendship Day, so to mark the occasion, we have for you five tips on helping your child make new friends.
1. Arrange playdates
If your child is particularly shy, organising play dates in your own home might make it easier for him to make new friends as he will be in an environment he is comfortable in. This means he won’t have to get used to new surroundings, in addition to trying to make friends.
Before the playdate, you can ask your child what kind of games and activities he would like to do with his guests. You can prepare board games, books, or art materials for the children to do together.
You might also want to expose your child to a variety of group settings to test his level of social interaction.
Some children tend to open up in more intimate group settings such as with one or two other children,
while others might feel in the zone with more people in the playdate.
2. Accompany Your Child
It is important for you to be there for your child when he is just starting to make friends. Meeting new people can be daunting – even for adults – so stay with your child during his playdates. Don’t leave him alone to fend for himself because this might make him feel overwhelmed, or he might be too nervous to approach the other kids. When he starts feeling more comfortable, you can slowly leave your child alone to play with his new friends.
3. Keep a Routine
If possible, try to schedule regular playdates with the same kids. Choose one day that is convenient for everyone involved in the playdate and stick to it as best as possible. This will allow your child to familiarise himself with the other children and get to know them properly.
If the playdates are progressing smoothly, you might choose to change the location of the playdates,
such as going to another child’s house or going to the park.
4. Sign Up for Enrichment Activities
Ask your child if there is an activity he would like to learn, such as soccer, ballet, swimming etc. and enrol him in that particular class. This will let him meet other children who are interested in the same activities as he is, which we all know, is the perfect first step in making new friends.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Not everyone is born to be outgoing and boisterous. Some children naturally take a while to warm up to other people, while some might need a bit of coaching from their parents in befriending others. If your child falls in the latter group, teach your child the appropriate way in approaching another child. Show him how to make eye contact and say hello, and practice with him until he gets the hang of it.