Mostly Cloudy   37.0F  |  Forecast »
Edit Module

Tools and Advice to Help Kids in Making New Friends

It can be scary for kids to figure out how to acquire pals. Here are some tips and insights for parents to help make the job a little bit easier.

Whether you're 3 or 13 (or even 53!), making friends takes some effort. It's no wonder, then, that big new events, like the start of school, can trigger anxieties in children worried about making new friends and nervous about whether old friends are still good buddies. If your child struggles to find friends, there are a few gentle tips that may help.

The golden rule

Sounds simple, but putting a smile on your face will let others know that you're approachable, explains Lori Warner, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Oakland County.

"It sounds like something from a Hallmark card, but I think the best way to make a friend is to be a friend," says Warner, whose children are ages 8 and 11. A few years back, she gave her son this counsel before he started kindergarten.

"He felt a little nervous going in to school, but then he ended up being a social butterfly – all the kids wanted to play with him." Warner credits her son's cheerful attitude and open friendliness with his popularity among his fellow kindergarteners.

Play manners

Playtime is the ideal chance for children to interact and get to know each other. Warner suggests that you let your child know that she should ask to play with other kids – and not just jump in. "Usually, most kids will say 'sure,'" says Warner.

Your child can also come up with something to play on her own and then invite other children to join in. Often a child will just ask, "Do you want to play with me?"

Warner says that it's easier if kids are a little bit more specific. "Instead of asking, 'Do you want to play?' try 'Do you want to play dinosaurs with me?'" By being more specific, your child can make playtime go more smoothly; instead of wondering – or disagreeing – over what to play, the children can get right into their imaginations.

You can help your child along by providing opportunities to meet other children. If your child's school is within walking distance, stay at the school after the bell rings and let your child spend time at the playground, go to library children's story times – or get your child involved in afterschool sports, so he has a chance to interact with a variety of kids in different situations. "Chances are your child will find a friend who shares his or her interests," says Warner.

Disagreements will happen

And what if your son or daughter gets into a spat with his new buddy while they're at the park or during a play date? "It's OK for children to have conflicts," says Dr. Warner, who recalls her son getting into a lengthy argument with his friend during a get-together. "My first reaction was to step in, but it's better to give the children some time to see if they can resolve it on their own."

If your child is constantly getting into disagreements with a certain friend in particular, you should point out to her that she might need to make new friends. For the most part, however, you should expect at least a little friction every once in awhile, even between friends.

Rethink rudeness

"I still remember some of the advice that my parents gave me when I was nervous about making friends when I started middle school," recalls Dr. Warner. "They told me to 'smile at other people, tell them my name and, if they seemed interested in talking, to follow up with them and then to follow their cues. If they didn't seem to want to be friends, don't take it personally.'"

Her parents pointed out that sometimes when people are shy or insecure, they might rebuff your efforts at friendship. Explain to your child that they need to be patient. "Sometimes nervousness can seem like unfriendliness when it's not," she says. "They should also remember that they're probably not going to make a best buddy the first day." Friendship takes time.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Holiday Ham Recipes

Holiday Ham Recipes

Still looking for some ideas for your big holiday dinner? This year, try a new recipe for your Christmas ham – thanks to these ideas from Taste of Home, Pillsbury and more.

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

If you're celebrating the holiday and looking for quick and easy crafts for kids, this fun and affordable little keepsake is a great way to display family memories.

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

British dad pranks his kids with bad Christmas presents, but didn't get the reaction he was expecting – and it's pretty sweet.

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Does your family have paper cups, Legos, plastic spoons or toilet-paper rolls lying around? Transform them into angels, snowmen and even a chimney for Santa!

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

What's the best way to bathe your child? How can you keep them safe in the tub? A pediatric doctor at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit has tips.

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Who doesn't love Frosty the Snowman? Kids will enjoy making – and eating! – some of these adorable and delicious snowman recipes.

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Crafty company Stampin' Up offers a variety of fun stampers, punches and paper that transform into cool gift tags, cards and other fun DIY projects.

Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement