Creative Child

Is Your Child Having a Hard Time Making Friends? Here are 9 Tips to Make Lonely Lunches a Thing of the Past.

by Deborah Song

It can be heart wrenching to watch your child play by himself or eat lunch alone. Making new friends, especially if your child is just enrolling in a new school or entering a new grade in a big school can be overwhelming for any child. Like all life skills, making friends may prove more challenging for some than others. If you have more than one child, you may have noticed that making friends just comes more natural for one child.

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Not to fret. There are definitely ways you as a parent can help ease the friend-making process and help your child become more skillful at it. It may take some time. But with the right encouragement and guidance, friendless lunches can be a thing of the past. Here are some helpful tips to consider.

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  • Take care of basics. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep, exercise and proper nutrition. An irritable child is not going to attract as many friends as someone who is feeling well rested and physically balanced. 
  • Address anxieties. Anxiety-inducing situations at school and at home can definitely interfere with your child’s efforts to engage with peers and be social. Is there any part of the learning process at school that is causing anxiety for your child? Can he see the chalkboard? Is he getting his work done at school? These are just some of the types of questions you want to be addressing.
  • Role model social cues. Teach your child to make small talk. Take the time to speak to your child as you would any adult friend. Make eye contact with him, which surprisingly is also a learned skill. Put your phone down from time to time and make small talk at the grocery store. Kids learn best through osmosis and watching a parent interact socially may be one of the very best ways for them to learn how to strike up a conversation himself.
  • Role-play conversation starters.  Going over how to make simple introductions like, “Hi, I’m Max.  Do you like this game? Would you like to play? Or what do you like? Would you want to play what you like first and then we can try what I like?” are great ways to break the ice. The simple majority of young kids are passive in new settings, so teaching your child to be the initiator in striking up a conversation will surely attract friends to his corner.
  • Encourage your child to speak to one new person each day. Learning to make friends should be a continued skill to build upon. Even if your child has already established his coterie of friends, encourage your child to speak to one new person each day. This will serve him well – and it may serve others well. Is there a friend at school sitting alone? In teaching your child to be inclusive and speak to an isolated friend at school, he may very well make a lonely child’s day. This can be a very empowering and encouraging for your child and may launch him off on a very powerful social footing.
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