Some children make friends with ease, and their only problem is having too many! Others have a more difficult time due to shyness or social discomfort. With everything that occupies us these days, from getting our children to school on time to making sure their homework is done, we can forget to find out how they’re doing socially. Now that children are settling in at school, it’s a good time for a chat to make sure they are feeling good about their social life.
The Lay of the Land
Find a quiet time to talk, but approach it casually, like it’s not a big deal. If your child is having playdates or playing with kids in the neighborhood, you know who they are socializing with close to home, but get a sense of their social circle at school as well. Ask about these friends– what they’re like, how your child feels about each friendship, whether they’d like to play with them outside of school. Hopefully, you’ll learn about one or two who you can invite over.
Leave Well Enough Alone
If, after your talk, you sense that there’s a healthy balance of school and home friends, you probably don’t need to explore it further right now. After all, you don’t want them to feel like you are meddling! Let them know that you’re available if they want to talk just in case issues arise later.
If you detect that your child is having trouble making friends at school, give them a few tools to use. You might assume that kids understand the unspoken rules of social interaction, but it’s possible that they don’t. Do some role-playing at home so they can see how they might start or carry on a conversation with a classmate. Encourage them to take advantage of daily opportunities, like being paired with another student for a project, or meeting an unfamiliar student in band or chorus. Show them how the give- and-take works , and how easy it can be to learn about commonalities with another person. Also teach them to look for signs if someone isn’t really interested in chatting, and encourage them not to take it personally! Depending on your child, it might take a few practice sessions and gentle prodding before they put these strategies in action, but once they start, they might not be able to stop!