Every parent wants their children to have healthy friendships. However, discerning your role in your child’s friendships can be much more complicated. When your children are young, you play an essential role in how they develop and understand friendships. The tools you give them now are very important for their future social development. Here are some ways you can help your child make friends while also giving him or her an important set of life-skills.
Model Healthy Social Behaviors
From the very beginning of their lives, your children are watching you as an example of how to behave. In fact, the way you act in front of your children is often far more important than what you teach them with words. This means you have a great opportunity to model healthy social behaviors for your child even when he or she is very young. Practice behaviors like attentive listening, apologies, and good manners. If possible, look at your child’s face when she is talking to you. Be as gentle and kind as possible. These basic social examples will make a great impact on your child as she forms her ideas of friendship in the world.
Teach Social Skills
There are many social skills that we take for granted as adults. Small children, on the other hand, are still new to the world and have a lot to learn about social expectations. Instead of feeling embarrassed or frustrated when your child acts inappropriately in public, see it as a learning opportunity. Some skills, such as introducing yourself to someone new, are easily practiced at home. Teach other important social abilities as opportunities arise. For instance, if your child is frustrated waiting for equipment on the playground, you can show him how to ask for the next turn. Or when your child gets too excited and is inappropriately loud, use the opportunity to explain socially appropriate volume in different locations. The more of these conversations you have, the more social tools are available to help your child make friends.
Clearly, one essential part of your child making friends is opportunities! Look for places that your child can interact with peers in developmentally appropriate environments. A quality childcare environment is an excellent option for this. Outside of daily childcare, libraries, tot gym, and other preschool activities provide great opportunities. The latter options carry the additional benefit of giving you a chance to get to know your child’s friends’ parents. Having a relationship with the parents of your child’s friends allows an open dialogue when your child is struggling in her friendships.
Follow Your Child’s Cues
Some children are naturally drawn to others and quickly make friends with every other child they meet. Others are more content to play alone and don’t feel the same draw toward other children. If your child is hesitant in social situations, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with him. It is very natural and age-appropriate for small children to be wary of new people and situations. Try not to push your child to be social when he is uncomfortable. If anything, this will likely make your child feel less sure of himself. As long as your child is generally happy and meeting milestones, you can encourage him to pursue friendships at his own pace.
As a parent, you want to help your child make friends. You also want those friendships to be healthy and happy. By modeling positive relationship patterns, teaching social skills, and providing lots of opportunities for friendship, you are giving your child every social advantage. If you are looking for childcare that will encourage healthy friendships while teaching your child essential friendship skills, consider Legacy Academy Frisco. Call or visit today for more information.