Offer Your Children Great Advice And a Great Example
It feels like you’ve taken the very worst step for all the right reasons. You’ve made a move for a better job, a better life, in a better neighborhood. But you’ve uprooted the kids and pulled them away from the only friends they’ve ever known. They can’t imagine making new friends. But they will.
Remind Your Child Why She’d Make a Great Friend
It will be difficult for your child to step out of her comfort zone if she’s not feeling too comfortable about who she is. Let her know, over and over, how much she is loved and appreciated. Point out all the traits that make her a pretty great kid. Build up her self-esteem, and you’ll help her be confident enough to make a first move toward a new friend.
Tell Her to Smile
Really. It may sound like a small first step, but exuding friendliness will help her attract the friends she craves. Role play with her and suggest conversations she might have with classmates. You’re such a good artist. What a pretty bow that is. Complimenting potential friends about qualities and things she actually likes will open her up to reciprocal attention.
Obey the Golden Rule
You’ve already taught her what it means to be a good person. By always treating others well, she’s more likely to, not only attract friends, but also attract nice friends. It’s also okay to remind her that she gets to pick her own friends. She can avoid the class bully and focus on kids that are respectful and nice.
Ask your kiddos about the kinds of activities they like. Sports, clubs, band and art classes are all ways your child can meet children with similar interests. Find activities she already likes that will help her connect with her peers. Everyone has something to offer and the sooner your child finds his or her tribe the more she’ll feel like she belongs. The great aspect about finding one thing she’s good at? It will give her courage to try others and meet children testing similar waters.
Invite a friend over. It doesn’t matter if she’s brand new to the neighborhood or if she’s been jilted by one of the mean girls. One of the best ways for her to make a new friend is to jump right in. When she’s continually talking about the same friend from school or a shared activity, encourage her to invite the friend over for a play day. And when the big day arrives, stay close enough to ensure it’s going well, but give her enough space to own the day.
Also encourage her to accept invitations. Whether it’s a birthday party, a play date or a team activity, the more she says yes, the more likely she’ll be invited back. It might be difficult (for both of you) if your child is particularly shy, but social situations help her build social skills. Of course you want to make certain the household rules of a new friend align with yours. Are they watchful? Do they have firearms in the house? But once you satisfy some basics, let go and let your child go have some fun.
Set a Good Example
Your child looks to you to learn and grow. Give her behavior to emulate. Show her how to be a good friend and make it clear how important your own friends are to you. There’s also no better to way to find friends for your children than for you to find a few of your own. Seek like-minded moms with children of similar ages. Lifelong friendships can start for you and your kids right now. Check out the local library for story hour. Pay attention to the bus stop or drop off line at school. Anyone seem like someone you could spend time with? Your kids probably could too. Volunteer at your church, local community center or soup kitchen. Helping out in nonprofit environments is a good way for the whole family to meet new friends. It also opens your child's world view to friends she might not find next door.
Linda Emma is a journalist, freelance writer, and parent. She has been writing for parenting-focused websites and blogs for more than a decade. She also works in digital marketing and at Endicott College as a learning consultant.