Woodrow Wilson once said, “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together. ” And indeed, friends are an important part of life. This holds true for all ages, even for your little one. Having, few or no friends can deeply affect your child’s self-esteem and how they view their social skills.
So much emphasis has been placed on popularity that oftentimes, a child may feel like a failure if she has only a few friends. However, it is important not to confuse quantity with quality.
If your child only has a couple of friends with whom she happily shares her hair accessories collection, for example, this does not quite make her a social outcast! Young children do not yet have the set of skills that will enable them to enjoy multiple meaningful friendships later. In the mean time, stop worrying and try to respect the level of sociability that your child chooses.
However, you can help your child to make friends more easily. Here are some tips:
Try role playing at home with your child. Play out situations that are likely to happen when she starts socializing with other children. Help her think of questions that can lead to interesting conversations with others. To keep it fun, you can use dolls, puppets and books about friendship.
Encourage your little one to invite a friend to your house after school. You can host a play date of sorts and she and her friend can just enjoy playing with her favorite baby gifts or make arts and crafts together.
Give your child a fun challenge, like every day she has to say ‘Hello’ to a schoolmate with whom she is not friends. When she gets home, encourage her to share how it went.
Be a role model. When you talk to her or to other people, make eye contact and always try to smile.
Organize a group activity with families in your neighborhood who have children the same age as your child. Group activities like a picnic will relax the children and make socializing easier for them.
Try this game: Say something negative (“Those hair clips don’t look good with that dress. ”) and have her come back with something positive (“I like these hair clips because grandma gave them to me. ”) And then switch roles with her. This will help your child learn a good way of responding to teasing and also help her develop a positive outlook in general.
Another important part of a child’s life is play. When your child spends time playing with friends, she slowly learns important life lessons. Sometimes play can get chaotic. But try not to step in and organize it all. Allowing her and her friends to go through this process will help them develop the ability to reason, to judge what's appropriate, and to reach a consensus. These skills are significant for children's development as social human beings.
Peers are important. Some of life's most important behaviors are shaped through your child’s interaction with her friends. Helping her to develop social skills will be one of the best “growing up” projects you can engage in.
Rachelle Salinger writes for No Slippy Hair Clippy, purveyor of the first and finest non-slip hair accessories in the market today. These award-winning baby items are designed and manufactured in the United States using the top quality materials and offering fun and unique styles.