This article was originally featured on Momaha on August 25, 2016.
Friends are special people; they are there for the good times, bad times and all the times in between. And having a “best friend” is a wonderful thing. As a parent you want your child to have a group of friends with which to have fun and spend their time.
Some kids have an easy time making new friends. Some kids have a very large circle of friends, and others are content with one or two close friends. But for others, meeting new people and developing friendships can seem like an impossible task. Perhaps your child is shy or quiet by nature; maybe they are self-conscious or worry a lot; maybe you have moved recently or your child will be attending a new school. Not having a lot of friends doesn’t mean there’s something wrong your son or daughter. It may just mean that they need to learn some new skills in forming new relationships.
Here are some tips you can offer to help your child make new friends:
1. Be friendly. The best way to make new friends is to be a good friend. Hold the door for people, smile at them, say hello, give compliments or share a snack with them.
2. Watch body language. Encourage them to look people in the eye, give smile and stand up tall so they appear confident.
3. Finds what they have in common. One of the easiest ways to connect with other people is to start with what they have in common. Do they share a class with the person? Are they on the same sports team? Do they both like the same books, movies or music?
4. Start the conversation. Instead of waiting for someone else to start up a conversation, help your child think of ways to take the initiative. Mention the weather, compliment someone’s clothes, talk about the basketball game coming up or ask their opinion about something. Once the conversation is started, the relationship can start to build.
5. Get involved. Another way to meet people is by getting involved in different activities. Encourage your child to join a club at school, go out for a sport or volunteer at an event. These are all great ways to meet people and find some potential friends.
6. Practice. As with anything, the only way to get better is to practice. Help your child to practice with family members. Running through a potential conversation in their head can also help them to feel less nervous when the time comes. The more they get used to speaking to other people, the easier it will be to strike up conversations and form friendships.
7. Self-confidence. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to making new friends is when people believe that they’re not worth it, that nobody would want to be their friend. It’s important for them to be aware of their strengths and good qualities so they feel confident in what they have to offer in their relationships.
8. Don’t give up. Friendships don’t usually happen overnight. They take time to develop. Encourage them to keep trying.