Children are naturally very trusting and accommodating. This trait in them makes them become friends easily with others. And yet, we, as parents are concerned if our child will be able to fit into different groups be it in the park, school or a party. Read on to know how you can support your child’s socializing and help him make friends.
Children will make friends everywhere they go – this is their inherent nature. They may not be the most popular person around, but will have the one special person, who they will share toys and treats with. In households with more than one child, the toddler’s first friend is invariably the elder brother or sister. In case there isn’t an older sibling, the chances are that the little girl in pigtails in the park, the neighbour’s child or a cousin could hold the coveted position of the ‘first friend’.
How to Help Children Make Friends?
1. Mutual Likes
Don’t force him into social situations. He will resent it completely and turn averse to the whole idea of having a friend. Keep in mind what your child likes doing, and try to fix a play date with a child who has similar likes. Try and have a child over at your own place, so that your child is already comfortable with the place and now is getting warm to the idea of a friend. Else, adjusting to a new place and new people can be overwhelming.
2. Be Involved
Don’t detach yourself from the play date or when your child is with new people. He may look around for your approval or involvement with what he is doing; be present to encourage him along until he finds his feet and then back off.
The First Friend at School
1. Difference Between the First and the Best Friend
Try and chat up with your toddler on his best friend in school. At this age, they do not really understand the difference between ‘first’ and ‘best’. Very often, the first one is the only one they spend the class year with. The need for another friend does not arise in a child. Try and find out his/her name, meet the mother, and see if you would like to invite them home for a play date. That way you are helping your little one strengthen his friendship.
2. Visit the School
If you are not getting the desired responses from your toddler, you may visit the school and have a conversation with her teacher. Understand how your toddler is faring in school and the kids she ‘hangs out with’. This will also give you the idea if your child is a loner or shy, or worse if she is being bullied in school.
Child and Social Anxiety
1. Invite Your Own Friends Home
Toddlers often emulate their elders. When she sees you interact with friends and laugh around with them, she’ll pick up the same cues when interacting with others her own age. Try and have some friends, at least, who have their own kids so that your baby can have her own circle while the elders are engaged by themselves. However, always be mindful of what they are doing. A group of children can do a lot collectively, even in a span of five minutes.
2. Child-rich Venues
Take your child to the nearby park or the library as often as possible. Being surrounded by a lot of children, your toddler will get familiar to having other children around and soon will play with them too. This also gives your child the opportunity to understand that she will not always be the centre of attention, unlike at home. It also builds their instincts to share, negotiate and reach agreements in situations.
Making friends is a very personal experience and it is best if the child explores this field without supervision. However, if you see your child would benefit with some assistance, be the first to jump in.