All parents want to see their children happy, engaged and interacting with their peers. In other words, we want our kids to have friends.
So what's a parent to do when they realize that their child, for whatever reason, is having difficulty making or maintaining friendships?
No parent wants to feel that their child is missing out or... being shunned for one reason or another.
I know that as a mother, this would be upsetting, to say the least.
Yet, this is the reality for too many children who face rejection on a daily basis, whether at school or elsewhere. It's enough to make even the steeliest parent break. No mother or father wants to see their child hurt and left out of the fun.
Reasons Why a Child May Not Have Friends
There are a number of reasons as to why a child may not have friends. Some of them include:
1) A unique and individualistic personality: When a child is an introvert, an "outside the box" thinker or someone who doesn't readily run with the crowd, it's often more of a challenge to make meaningful friendships.
2) A love of technology: To the detriment of other more social pursuits. In this day and age, many a child would rather curl up in bed with a fully-charged iPad than to go outside and play with their friends, the old-fashioned way.
3) Little time to socialize: With all of the extra-curricular lessons, homework commitments and pressures that are common to so many of our children, it's no surprise that these same kids have limited time to socialize.
4) Personality clashes: Conflicting approaches to playground antics can be the basis of a lonely time at school
As children make their way through life, friendships are increasingly important, as they set the stage for future development and the ability to handle life's challenges. Being able to sort out the intricacies of being a friend as well as having a friend is the basis of healthy relationships for both children and adults alike.
If your child is having difficulty making or maintaining friendships, here are some simple tips about what you can do to help.
Six Ways To Help Your Child Make Friends
1) Get to the root of the problem: Talk to your child and find out what's causing the issues with potential friendships. Knowledge is power and knowing will be the first step towards your child's future ability to make friends.
2) Ask others: Those who are close to your child or who interact with them regularly probably have a perspective that you don't, as the parent. Speak to your son or daughter's teacher, sibling, neighbours or relatives who regularly interact with your child, as they may have some insight to the problem.
3) Offer your help: Let your child know that they're not alone, and that you're there to help them through this difficult time in their lives. Knowing that you're there to help them will make a world of difference to their outlook.
4) Explain the "nuts and bolts" of friendships: Perhaps part of the problem is not understanding what is required of friends. Walk through the concepts of empathy, reciprocity and support as important elements of lasting friendships and help your child understand how these attributes support healthy friendships.
5) Lead by example: Your child is looking to you as a role model. Watching you interact with others and maintaining healthy friendships will go a long way to your son or daughter's success in making and keeping friends.
6) Emphasize good manners at home: The family home is where we get our bearings to the outside world, and we often follow the examples of our parents and siblings. Good manners are always appreciated so support your son or daughter in learning what is expected in the outside world.
Relationships between two people take work, especially when both people are young and finding their way in the world. With a little bit of help and a lot of support, kids who have previously had difficulty making friends can experience the joy that solid friendships can bring.
A version of this post originally appeared on www.multiplemayhemmamma.com
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