Helping our Children to Make and Keep Friends

Social Skills

We all know some children make friends easily and are invited to everything. If we looked into the future, these children will be socially successful wherever they go.

However, some children are not born this way. The children that are shy, the children who have not had many social experiences, the children who have never learned these critical early skills, are handicapped socially. Finally, the pain of social rejection will set in and affect our children far more than we may realize. However, do not despair!

There is huge Value in Teaching Social Skills. It is so important to help our children learn friendship-making skills. Many studies have been done and prove that children reject other children if they have poor social skills, are aggressive, or immature. However, from this early age your child’s pals can protect your at-risk child from depression and anxiety now and in later life.

The good news is that social skills can easily be taught. Teaching these skills can enhance children’s social confidence and expand their potential interpersonal fulfillment. By teaching your child one new skill at a time and practicing it over and over until he or she can use it on his or her own, you can help your child make new friends and improve their social confidence. Here are a few top friendship-making skills that are critical to our children’s social competence and ALL are teachable.

Eye contact, Listening to a conversation, Resolving conflicts, Introducing self, Meeting new people, Starting a conversation, Joining in, Handling rejection, Staying calm, Saying no, Encouraging, Asking permission, Apologizing, Sharing and taking turns, Bouncing back, Problem solving, Etiquette and manners, Suggesting an activity, Identifying and expressing your emotions, Sticking up for yourself, Expressing feelings, Accepting criticism and being teased, Compromising, Negotiating.

STEP 1: Choose the one skill your child needs and FOCUS on it.

STEP 2: Coach the New Friendship Skill
Find a private moment to model the new skill to your child. Talk about why the skill is important, and then be sure your child can show you how to do the skill correctly. Go to a playground, so she can observe other kids actually using the skill. Seeing the skill in action helps your child copy it, so she can try it on her own. Be creative in helping your child learn the new skill.  Some ideas: Look for a character using the skill on a TV show or movie, Have “teddy bear” practice with “Peter Rabbit, “Role play or play act the skill out.”

STEP 3: Provide Practice (and lots of it!)
Your child needs to try out the skill with other children. The third step is to find fun ways for your child to rehearse the skill until he can finally use it without adult guidance. Here are a few Ways to Help Kids Practice a New Skill. Look for the kid next door, the kid at the park, Keep the practice session short. Do not overwhelm your child. Keep the session fun–this is not meant to be a tutoring session like learning math facts! Stand back at a comfortable distance to give your child comfort. If your child is having problems in the group, offer suggestions, but only privately–never in front of other kids. Preserve his dignity! Repetition is crucial for learning. This step is crucial in boosting performance. As soon as you can ask some of these questions:

How did it go? What did you say? How do you think you did? What would you do differently next time?

Acknowledge success. The little efforts and the small gains. Remember: one friendship skill at a time. Gradually your child’s social competence will grow.

Do not Give Up!

Friendship making groups may be available in your area. Friendship plays an enormous part of your child’s self-esteem and success. Do not overlook this part of your child’s world.

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