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Back to School: How to Make New Friends

As kids try and get adjusted to the new school year, many children will experience difficulties making and maintaining new friendships. Making friendships is critical to helping kids improve their communication and sharing skills. Some children who are impulsive and hyperactive sometimes engage in behaviors that sabotage their ability to make new friends. Also, for children and adolescents who are shy and introverted, it can be very overwhelming to initiate conversations with peers.

 

From a child’s perspective, making friends is just as important as performing well academically. If you notice that your child is struggling socially and/or being bullied, here are some steps you can take to help. Remember, as a parent it is not practical for you to make friendships on behalf of your child. It is possible to help your child make friendships without enabling them. Giving your child opportunities to grow socially can help them feel more self-motivated to make friends. You can help them build the skills needed to make healthy friendships. Try to:

  1. Practice Greetings. This is a basic step to starting a new friendship. You can role play with your child different conversation starts that he or she can use with a potential new friend. Also, be mindful of non-verbal communication such as eye contact and body language. For example, if your child is looking at their feet when they are talking to a potential new friend, the other child could interpret this as your child being uninterested.
  2. Attend a Social Skills Group: Your child has the opportunity to be in a small group setting where he or she can interact with other children who are experiencing similar challenges; it help your child feel less alone. Making friendships can be hard and your child is definitely not the only one going through this! Here at Fresh Start for The Mind, we offer social skills groups for children. Please email Chelsea Moodie, M.S., APC, NCC for more information about how to sign up
  3. Be Mindful of Other Kids:  Being mindful about the needs of peers can be helpful in making new friendships. For example, if you notice that a classmate is in need of a pencil, you can lend the classmate a pencil. Your child can even be mindful by saving their friend a seat at the lunch table. There are endless ways of being kind and mindful to classmates!

While making friendships can be an anxiety-provoking situation, with the right skills your child can be on their way to making healthy friendships. Also, remember that a crucial component to healthy friendships is trust. You can always ask your child what qualities they like about their friends, as well as any necessary adjustments they believe they need to make in their friendship circle.

Chelsea Moodie, M.S., APC, NCC

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