Parent Connection: 6 Tips to Help Your Child Make—and Keep—Friends

Parent Counselling

Preschool children and adolescents can suffer from anxiety and depression just like adults. It can be heartbreaking to see your child struggle to fit in when they don’t “feel normal.” Below are some tips on how to make life easier for a child who is having difficulty.

DBSA’s Positive Six challenge for October is building and strengthening relationships. However, children with 70-481 mood disorders may have difficulty making and keeping friends. Here are six tips for parents to put into action to ease our children’s pain and help support them in building friendships:

Listen to your child. Listen to your child in a kind, caring way. Reflect back to your child what you hear because that acknowledges your child’s feelings and helps her identify them. It also encourages further conversation. Try to avoid giving advice or criticizing. Sometimes all your child wants is for her parent to listen with understanding.

Encourage flexibility and resiliency. When your child brings his social woes to you, you may experience it with him. But it doesn’t help to dwell on the negative by asking excessive questions or trying to figure it out for him. Instead of “interviewing for pain,” ask what he’s done to solve the situation, encourage efforts, and let your child know you are there. This encourages flexibility and resiliency rather than hurt feelings.

Be a friendship coach. Coach your child on how to navigate tricky social
70-484situations. For example, if your child continually talks about wanting to join in on a recess game, but doesn’t know how to go about it, invite your child to brainstorm some ways she might approach the situation. What can she do to fit in? When she gets home from school, talk over how things went and brainstorm ideas of what she might do differently the next time.

Open your home. Make your house a welcoming place for your child and invited guests. Particularly when your child is younger, plan a couple of activities with your child beforehand so he is not at a loss for things to do when his friend comes over to play. It may also be helpful to limit a play date to three hours or less so your child doesn’t become overtired and overstimulated and can end the experience on a positive note.

Get your child involved. Find an activity outside the home that your child enjoys. Being around kids who share interests may help foster new friendships both within the organized activity and outside the group. Sometimes you may need to call the director of the program beforehand to figure out if it will be a good fit for your child and to make sure any necessary accommodations can be made.

Locate a social skills group. Ask your child’s school counselor or therapist if he or she offers or knows of a social skills group. A child struggling in the friend department may lack certain qualities such as being sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs, and formal training in this area may bring about improvements.