Help your kids make friends - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Help your kids make friends

Posted:
Younger kids often have many friends who are loosely connected because of what they like to do together. (©iStockphoto.com/Carmen Martínez Banús) Younger kids often have many friends who are loosely connected because of what they like to do together. (©iStockphoto.com/Carmen Martínez Banús)


By Gail Belsky

 

Making new friends (and meeting up with old ones) is one of the most exciting things about starting a new school year, but it can also be one of the scariest. Every year, kids worry about the same issues: Who will I play with on the playground? What if nobody likes me? How am I going to make friends? And sometimes, they have a new worry: Why don't my old friends want to play with me anymore?

"Over the summer, younger children often change," says child psychologist Andrea Weiner, author of The Best Investment: Unlocking the Secrets of Social Success for Your Child. "Their interests change and they may play with other people. Kids need to understand that friends don't always remain friends."

While you can't micromanage your child's social life, Weiner says there are ways that you can help him reach out to other children and forge the friendships that are right for him. The key is to understand what drives children's friendships in the first place … and to listen to what your child is saying about his.

For Younger Kids

What's happening:

At this age, friendship is primarily based on shared interests, and kids often have many friends who are loosely connected because of what they like to do together. If your child has discovered a new game, but his friends haven't, he may move away from them in search of kids who play it. The same works in reverse: Your child might find that the other kids have shifted interests and moved away from him.

What you can do:

Listen before you do anything, and avoid using the word "should," says Weiner. Showing empathy is far more helpful to your child than telling him what to do. Ask questions like, "I can see that you're worried about recess. What's going on?" Help him identify other potential friends: "If you were looking for a friend, what would you want him to be like? Do you like kids who are silly or funny?" Then help him come up with a strategy for making new friends who share similar interests: "How do you think you can talk to that boy and see if he wants to play with you?" Reassure your child that friendships take time to form.

For Older Kids

What's happening:

Friendship takes a new form around age 9 or 10. Instead of having a loosely connected group, older kids start paring down their circle of friends. They still seek out kids who share their interests, but now they want to share other things, too. Girls in particular look for more personal connections; they want "best" friends, not just casual pals. At this age, kids are also concerned about fitting in -- and not standing out! (There's nothing worse than showing up with the wrong outfit or a bad haircut.) Starting conversations with new friends can be especially tricky.

What you can do:

When you're doing your back-to-school wardrobe shopping, look for some trendy styles (as long as they're appropriate, of course). It's important to encourage your child to be his own person and honor his individuality, but when in doubt, going with styles that many of the other kids are wearing will make him feel like part of the group. "Kids feel a great anxiety about making friends," says Weiner. "Why put an extra burden on them?" You can also help your child think up some conversation starters about social things like clothes, movies, sports, even music. Try questions like, "I like your sneakers; where'd you get them?"; "Do you like that new song by so-and-so?"; and "Who's your favorite soccer player?" It may seem superficial to you, but to your child, it's the language of making friends. 

Gail Belsky has worked on a variety of women's publications, including Parents, Working Mother and All You, and she recently wrote a book for women titled The List: 100 Ways to Shake Up Your Life. She is the managing editor of Your Family Today.

Copyright (c) 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved. 

  • Success by 6More>>

  • Michael Anderson Elementary Wins Book Drive School Challenge

    Michael Anderson Elementary Wins Book Drive School Challenge

    Tuesday, August 20 2013 1:08 PM EDT2013-08-20 17:08:44 GMT
    Michael Anderson Elementary on the Fairchild Air Force Base took the Challenge- so did Windsor Elementary in the Cheney School District. Their mission -to collect books for the Success By 6 Book Bank.>>
    Michael Anderson Elementary on the Fairchild Air Force Base took the Challenge- so did Windsor Elementary in the Cheney School District. Their mission -to collect books for the Success By 6 Book Bank.>>
  • Got A Pre-schooler? Pick Up a Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

    Got A Pre-schooler? Pick Up a Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

    Tuesday, August 7 2012 7:48 PM EDT2012-08-07 23:48:39 GMT
    Got a Pre-schooler? Pick up the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar at any local library! Getting ready for Kindergarten starts long before your child sets foot in their Kindergarten classroom! That's>>
    Got a Pre-schooler? Pick up the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar at any local library! Getting ready for Kindergarten starts long before your child sets foot in their Kindergarten classroom! >>
  • Young Children Learn from Everyday Life

    Young Children Learn from Everyday Life

    Wednesday, August 10 2011 12:26 PM EDT2011-08-10 16:26:51 GMT
    They say kids don't come with an instruction manual, yet parents, especially new parents are bombarded with all kinds of advice from friends and family. There are books and websites offering endless lists, tips and tricks for parenting.  Jill Johnson, Communications Specialist for Family Resources at Community-Minded Enterprises and Success by 6 Board Member says you can teach your children with simple, everyday activities.>>
  • Want Your Child to Love Learning? Let Them Play!

    Want Your Child to Love Learning? Let Them Play!

    Wednesday, February 9 2011 2:08 PM EST2011-02-09 19:08:57 GMT
    Want your Preschooler to Love Learning? Let them play! Gwendolyn Haley, Spokane County Library District Youth Services Manager, and Success By 6 Board Member, says playtime is the most important part of a preschooler's day.>>
  • Your Baby: 2 Months

    Your Baby: 2 Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 5:59 PM EDT2012-03-13 21:59:50 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, host of our "Your Baby" series discusses the finer points of living with a 2 month old baby. >>
  • Your Baby: 4 Months

    Your Baby: 4 Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 6:19 PM EDT2012-03-13 22:19:00 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, gives parents an idea of what they can expect of their 4 month old baby.>>
  • Your Baby: Six Months

    Your Baby: Six Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 6:46 PM EDT2012-03-13 22:46:36 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, says child proofing the house is a priority in a house with a six month old baby.>>
  • What Book is just right for your New Reader?

    What Book is just right for your New Reader?

    Thursday, July 21 2011 4:31 PM EDT2011-07-21 20:31:53 GMT
    What book is just right for your new reader? Mary Ellen Braks, a Youth Services Manager with  the Spokane County Library District says it's an exciting time when your child is starting to learn how to read.>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.