Helping Your Child Make & Keep Good Friends | Here’s How

Adesua Iyoyojie 

When i heard my son tell another child, “Waka, God punish you!”, I almost jumped out of my skin. I asked him where he learnt it, he told me a child in the neighborhood said it to someone else.

Another time, they went to a close neigbourhood, entered a compound, played with and spoilt their tap. It was very embarrassing when the owners came knocking. I had to cut off that friendship, it was just the right thing to do.

There are friends our kids make that change them for the good or worse, we can help them choose the kind of friends they make.

Some parents are oblivious of the kind of friends their child kees until it gets out of hand, and the child ends up in serious trouble like jail.

From infancy to adolescent, we can monitor the friends they keep and even help them nurture their social skills and then progress to helping them make and keep good friends.

READ ALSO: 8 Controversial Scientific Discoveries About An ‘Only Child’

Here are ways you can achieve that:

1. Encourage your child to say hello or greet.
When they go to a place they have never been to, encourage them to always greet or say hello to people they see.

2. When your child begins to talk about a particular child or mention one name pay keen attention. Ask questions like; Where does he or she lives? Why do you want to be their friend? Have you been to their house, their class . . . Ask questions about everything.

3. Give your child plenty of opportunities to mix with other children.

Such as Sunday school , car sharing, school trips and holidays, family get-togethers, scouts, sports and especially doing any activities which encourage their talents.

4. When you spend time with your child, ‘model’ good social skills.

Such as learning how to talk respectfully, lose gracefully (sportsmanship) and handle stress. It helps them deal their friends.

5. Notice all the things they do that are friendly.

My son loves to give out his toys, that is one way to show he likes you as a friend.

Notice when they have good manners, like: share, take turns, wait, ask rather than demand, cooperate, accept someone else’s ideas, are kind or helpful, are patient, compliment others, express enjoyment, are empathetic or solve a problem. Each time they display a friendly behaviour tell them that you noticed it. Be particularly observant when they show consideration of someone else’s feelings or point of view.

READ ALSO: 15 Keys to Boost Your Child’s Self-Confidence (Part One)

6. Have a discussion with your child about ‘What makes a good friend?’

Whenever my son has a fight with his friend, he goes back to collect all the toys he gave them.
I told him that doesn’t make him a good friend .

It is good we encourage them to assist their friends when they can, in school or home.
That is what friendship is about to be there for one another.

7. Teach your child how to say nice things to other children.

Particularly talk about how to start up a conversation, or give a compliment when another child is doing well in a game. Help them to smile –it is a really important skill. And to say when they are having fun.

8. Discuss social skills

Ask your child what they would do when they want to start a conversation with another child. You could come up with a whole list of possible scenarios and work out the consequences of trying each one. Or you could do some role play and ask your child if they want you to be themselves or the other child.

9. Talk about how they can handle their emotions

Talk to your child about how they handle things when they feel frustrated or angry with their friends. Talk about self-regulation and ask them what they can do when they feel annoyed. This skill is vital if children are to keep their friends. Get your child to practice calming themselves down at home. I taught my son the habit of breathing in and out when someone annoys him. It is also very important to teach a child how to act calm and indifferent when they are being teased or bullied.

10. Invite children round to your house to play.

Ask your child who they would like to invite and plan some fun activities for when they come round. If your child struggles with making and keeping friends keep the visits short and fun, and invite your child to allow their friend to choose from what activities are on offer. Stay close and comment when the children do things which show the qualities of being a good friend. ‘That was nice, you are being really helpful to your friend’ or ‘well done for waiting, you are being very patient and waiting your turn’. When they go to a friend’s house talk in advance about what skills they will try to use when they are there.

READ ALSO: 15 Keys to Boost Your Child’s Self-Confidence (Part Tw

11. Listen to your child when they fall out with friends and let them decide what to do

If your child squabbles with one of their friends encourage them to talk about what happened. Be warm and empathise with how tough it can be when we argue with friends. Try not to offer suggestions about what to do, but when you have listened to their story ask what they would like to do. If it helps do a bit of problem solving with them and let them come up with a few suggestions about how they could handle it. Afterwards think about the consequences of each of their suggestions and ask which solution they would like to try.

12. Keep an eye on the friendships your child makes.

Sometimes you will not particularly like one of their friends, but it is important to respect your child’s choice of friends. However, as parents, you can influence which children you invite to your home and ask children round that you feel are good for your child.

Also you can talk about ‘so-called friends’ who lower your child’s confidence. Help your child recognise how they feel when they are playing with certain children and encourage them to spend time with children who make them feel good.

13. Talk to your child at home each night about who they are playing with. Ask specific questions like “What games did you play at lunchtime today?” “Who else was playing too?”

14. Make an appointment to speak discretely with your child’s teacher if you feel your child is having trouble making friends.

The teacher will probably observe your child’s interactions at recess and lunch and also pair them with different classmates during classroom activities to help break the ice.

Finally, it’s important that parents not place too many of their own social expectations on our children. Kids need just one or two good friends. You don’t have to worry about them being the most popular kid in their class.

Good friendships lasts a lifetime.  You can help your child achieve that.

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