Written by Jana Angeles
When your child is starting school, it can be a daunting experience for them when they are quite shy and introverted. Being in a different environment can make them feel mixed emotions and it can be quite difficult to pinpoint how they exactly feel. If you notice that your child is mainly hanging out their own during recess and lunch, chances are, they have been struggling to make friends at school. While you don’t want to be overbearing to your child, you can still help them out in establishing great friendships in your school. Here are some ways where you can help them make friends.
Explain the situation to the teacher
If you know that your child hasn’t made friends yet at school, have a good talk with their teacher and explain to them the situation. Clarifying what’s happening can enable them to make brief introductions for your child to the other kids to ensure that they don’t feel left out. This is helpful if you already know that they struggle to talk with people in general.
Organise playdates on the weekends
If you managed to befriend some other parents within your child’s school, try and set up some playdates with their children so your child has the opportunity to make friends. Although it is difficult to coordinate playdates with kids, you can still make it work. You will only need a couple of hours and if you know that your child takes time to warm up to people, just be patient and let it happen naturally.
Read children stories about friendship
Does your child love reading books? Well, if you know that they enjoy bedtime stories so much, search for books in the library that have themes that surround friendship and its positive impact on people. There are many books that have this as a recurring theme and even after you finish reading them, reiterate what happened in the story and tell them what lessons were learnt from the characters, then apply them to how it works in real life.
Ask them why they don’t have any friends
Children have their reasons. Maybe your child prefers to play on their own because they have an imaginary friend they enjoy hanging out with, or they simply prefer their own company. Having a good conversation with your child can help you understand where they’re coming from too. Also, it’s good to be weary of what they might be hiding. If you see any suspicious behaviour coming from them or any signs that they may be getting bullied, raise these concerns with your child’s teacher.
Use the power of positive reinforcement
Having a positive attitude can help your child feel confident in their own skin. If for some reason they feel less confident about being with other people, be their cheerleader. Having daily talks with them can help them rationalise the current situation and be less shy and awkward around other kids. By simply cheering them on could boost their confidence levels and encourage them to come out of their shell.
Just because your child is struggling to make friends doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them. Before you jump to the conclusion that your child may have social anxiety or other mental health issues, communicate with them first and listen as best as you can. Having a shy or introverted kid doesn’t mean they are automatically blocked from the friendship circles at school. You just have to give them time and let them know that it is okay to start friendships when they feel comfortable doing so.