Shaping friendships is always an exciting yet challenging experience for numerous students, which could occur anytime during school years. Since this plays a crucial role in their social and emotional development for years to come, as parents, you must support and guide your child in building meaningful connections.
This article will provide practical tips to show you how to help your child make friends at school.
Understand Your Child’s Needs and Personality
Being knowledgeable about your child’s unique personality and emotional needs is critical when helping them make friends at school for the reasons below:
- Tailored Support: As some children may be more introverted and need encouragement to engage in social interactions while others may struggle with social cues and need guidance in understanding and responding appropriately, figuring out specific problems a child met can lead to effective and targeted assistance.
- Emotional Well-being: By recognising their child’s emotional needs (signs of anxiety, shyness, or other emotional challenges in social interactions), parents can empower appropriate emotional support for building confidence, resilience, and a positive self-image.
As the effects of having no friends as a teenager could be very problematic, it is a parent’s huge responsibility to:
- Pay close attention to a child’s behaviours, preferences, interactions, and reactions in different social situations and listen attentively to their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about those situations.
- Be attentive to age-appropriate social and emotional milestones and consider how these may influence their child’s interactions with peers.
- And reflect on their experiences as children and how they may relate to their child’s needs and personality.
Encourage Open Communication and Empathy
No bonding relationship could be formed without good communication and deep empathy for each other.
The following insights will explain more about the hows and whys we should encourage children to have more open communication and empathy:
- Understanding Others: Encouraging them to openly communicate about social issues and empathise with others involved can empower them to understand, appreciate, and respond compassionately to their peers.
- Social Communication Skills Development: By engaging in conversations about friendship experiences, children can develop their communication, active listening, and self-expression abilities.
- Emotional Support: When children freely express their emotions related to friendship experiences, you can use such moments to provide understanding, validation, and guidance.
- Establish open lines of communication with their children.
- Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about school and friendships, actively listen to and validate their experiences.
- Teach them empathy by promoting understanding and consideration of others’ feelings.
Facilitate Social Opportunities
Consider the following reasons to improve your child’s overall social competence and well-being by encouraging social opportunities for them:
- Practise Meaningful Skills: By engaging in group activities, children can learn necessary social skills such as active listening, taking turns, and conflict resolution. They can also gain problem-solving skills by learning from each other, exchanging knowledge, and sharing different perspectives through those social opportunities.
- Boosting Confidence and Building Supportive Networks: Having strong social relationships offers children emotional support and a sense of belonging. Their self-esteem, general well-being, and resilience will also be boosted since they have friends to lean on when things get tough.
To fully grasp those social opportunities that can assist in expanding your child’s social circle, you should:
- Give your child the chance to partake in social activities outside of the classroom.
- Encourage participation in extracurricular clubs or community events that suit their liking.
- Organise playdates with classmates to foster connections in a more relaxed and familiar setting.
Help Develop Social Skills
Another key point when assisting your child in making friends at school is to help them develop valuable social skills, such as those listed below:
- Empathy and Perspective-Taking: Since social skill development involves cultivating empathy and the ability to take others’ perspectives, your child can also learn to understand and relate to the emotions and experiences of their peers, which promotes compassion, kindness, and consideration.
- Cooperation, Communication and Teamwork: Abilities like sharing responsibilities and contributing effectively, managing disagreements, negotiating, and finding solutions within a group setting are important for fostering positive interactions with classmates.
Developing social skills contributes a lot to establishing and maintaining positive peer relationships, along with boosting self-confidence in young children. Therefore, parents must:
- Teach your child essential social skills, such as active listening, taking turns, sharing, and problem-solving.
- Then, role-play different social scenarios with them to practise appropriate communication and conflict resolution.
Fostering Inclusivity and Kindness
The ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles once said, ”One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.”
The following points will explain why fostering inclusivity and kindness in children is necessary:
- Nurturing Positive Social Interactions: When children engage in kind and inclusive behaviour, it cultivates a culture of respect, cooperation, and support among peers, and discourages negative manners such as bullying or exclusion.
- Developing Social Responsibility: By fostering inclusivity and kindness, children develop a strong moral compass that helps them comprehend their role in cultivating a positive and inclusive community and actively contribute to that community for years to come.
To start nurturing such wonderful qualities as inclusivity and kindness in a child, parents could follow these tips:
- Encourage your child to be inclusive and kind to others,
- Teach them the value of empathy, respect, and acceptance of individual differences,
- Help them understand the importance of reaching out to classmates who may be feeling lonely or left out.
Build Self-Confidence and Resilience
Like everything else in life, there are also trials and errors in making friends, especially at a young age. That is why parents should introduce and embrace self-confidence and resilience in young minds prior to their friendship-making journey.
Below are some valuable lessons and skills that children could gain from having self-confidence and resilience:
- Dealing with Rejection: This helps them back from setbacks and handle rejection, keep a positive outlook, and persevere in their efforts to build relationships with others.
- Encouraging Independence and Positive Self-Perception: Your child can learn to trust their judgement to solve interpersonal issues on their own, which will eventually enhance their self-esteem and social risk-taking level.
- Overall Well-Being: When children feel confident and resilient, they can reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of social isolation.
There for, parents should:
- Encourage children to explore their strengths and interests.
- Provide opportunities for them to take on challenges and celebrate their achievements.
- Offer guidance and encourage them to learn from these experiences when they encounter setbacks or conflicts.
Partner with Teachers and School Staff
The school environment where a child studies plays an irreplaceable role in their journey to make new friends.
- Valuable Insights and Individualised Support: Teachers and school staff have valuable insights into the social dynamics of the school environment as well as students’ interactions with their peers regularly. With their help, you can gain a deeper understanding of your child’s challenges and strengths within the school context and provide suitable help.
- Mediation and Conflict Resolution: In situations where conflicts arise between children, teachers and school staff can provide guidance, facilitate discussions, and help find resolutions that promote healthy relationships.
In teaming with your child’s teachers and staff at their school on how to help your teen make friends, here are some key tips:
- Be sure to have the contact information of the teachers and staff of your child’s school,
- Stay informed about school activities and events, ensuring your child’s participation,
- Seek guidance from educators on strategies to facilitate friendships and address any social concerns when necessary.
Helping your child make friends at school is a process that requires understanding, support, and guidance from many parties. By knowing ways to achieve that goal that this article has provided, you can empower your child to cultivate meaningful connections.
As mentioned in this article, the school environment where a child studies plays an irreplaceable role in their journey to make new friends. For a learning environment that is as welcoming as it is confidence- and empathy-encouraging, where social skills and problem-solving skills are as important as the academic lessons being taught there, there is no better option than our dear school, UNIS Hanoi.
UNIS Hanoi is “a special place to learn, grow, and work with one another to make the world a better place”, as described by many brilliant previous and current students. Its education is based on International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, which encourage children from the Early Years (started at age 3) to Grade 12 to be open-minded, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, caring, principled and risk-takers, all qualities that not only helps in making friends but also useful in many more aspects in life. Also, you can also click here to start applying to our new school year of 2023-2024!