5 Constructive Ways to Help Your Kid Make Friends

Want to help your kid make some friends without being too overbearing? Check out these five tips that won’t turn you into a “helicopter parent.”

We all remember our childhood friends and how much fun we had, as well as how important it is for your children to do the same and have great memories. After all, the better they socialize as children, the less difficult it will be as they get older.

But what can a parent to do when it’s all up to his child?

Take a look at these tips from experts in this specific category.

1. Act Appropriately

"Parents who overreact may make things worse." These are the words of Mary Dobbins, MD, assistant professor of psychology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine when speaking to WebMD. She admits that most children will have hurt feelings at some times, and overreacting parents are no help. You may be worried about your kid making friends, but don’t let that affect how your kid feels.

2. Invite Other Kids Over to Play

What better way to expose children to playing with others than by inviting kids who you think could be a good fit as friends. This includes neighbors, school mates, and even extended family. If your child has an interest in sports or dolls or whatever else, it can be advantageous to invite kids over who share these interests.

3. Don’t Force It

“If an elementary-aged child does not seem to want to make friends, it’s important to try and get an understanding of what may be going on,” says Denise Salin, a licensed marriage and family therapist and parent educator. Salin makes it clear that parents need to understand what is going on if their children are having a difficult time making friends, rather than dismissing them as shy or awkward. However, as she told Education.com, it is important not to push.

4. Acknowledge Feelings

Dr. Michele Borba is a parenting expert and offers lots of advice to help children make friends. One of her best suggestions is to have both parent and child acknowledge feelings of loneliness, fear, or other emotions, and to let them know they are normal. Other tips include keeping communication open, getting to know other parents, and various “friendship-making skills.”

5. Be an “Emotion Coach”

This is the first tip from Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. and her 10 evidence based tips for helping kids make friends. Studies suggest that children develop better emotional self control when their parents talk to them about their feelings in a sympathetic, problem-solving way. These parents were shown to have children who could better regulate their own emotions, thus improving their friendship quality.

For more ways to help children make new friends and tips for back to school, check out Noodle’s Back-to-School section!

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