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How to help children make new friends

Making friends is not only an important part of the school environment, it is also a valuable life-skill to learn. School is more than just academic learning, it’s where they first learn to cultivate friendships. While some familiar faces carry through from grade to grade, chances are your children will meet new students who will soon become good friends. While many kids find it easy to make new friends, others might need some assistance to form meaningful friendships. Here are five ways you can help your children make new and lasting relationships:

Offer opportunities for socialization. Children should be given the opportunity to explore friendships outside of the classroom where peer pressure might not be so prevalent. Establish a carpool or invite a classmate over for a play-date. Unstructured time to play or get to know each other is a great way to establish friendships. Invite new children over each time to see which friendships are the strongest, but make sure you are not pushing a friendship on your child.

Discover common interests. One of the quickest ways to build friendships is through common interests, says Kirk Martin, a behavioral therapist and author. Encourage your child to join a club or sports group where he or she can meet other kids with similar interests. Sometimes, finding reasons to talk with other children is the most difficult step in making new friends. Sharing a common interest removes this barrier.

Teach proper manners. Children who are polite, well mannered, and know how to follow directions are better equipped to attract friends. Children who misbehave may be shunned by other kids and their parents, who do not want the hassle of an unruly youngster coming over to play. Respectful children who are honest, trustworthy, and capable of sustaining eye contact and making small talk may find it easy to make friends.

Take the friendship lead. As parents, you can improve your children’s chances of making friends by getting friendly with their classmates’ parents. You do not have to become bosom buddies with everyone, but making connections with fellow parents can reinforce the value of friendship to your children. Socializing as families also presents other opportunities to get together and solidify relationships.

Boost confidence levels. As a parent, you can talk to your children about their strengths and positive attributes. Emphasizing your kids’ best traits will increase their self-esteem. That sense of self-worth can make it easier for them to make friends.

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