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Being a parent and watching your child in all of their developmental stages is a great experience. However, both parenthood and childhood are not always easy. Seeing your child suffering can be heartbreaking, and you probably want to do everything you can to make them feel better.
If you find your child doesn’t have any friends, you may be wondering what you can do to support them. This article explains how you can help your child make friends and all you need to know about it.
What Are the Reasons for Having Difficulties Finding Friends?
There are many reasons why children may have difficulties finding friends. It could be as petty as their visual appearance, wearing glasses, a disability, or unavailable status symbols.
However, a child’s behavior influences their ability to make friends. Self-confident and amenable children usually have fewer difficulties finding friends than shy or anxious kids.
Therefore as a parent, you help your child meet all the challenges of growing up. Learning soft skills is one of these challenges since they are crucial when it comes to interacting with other people. Soft skills are interpersonal skills and describe emotional intelligence. They include:
- Respect for yourself and others
- Empathy and sympathy for others
- Appropriate communication and language
- Friendliness and politeness
- Perspective-taking skills
If your child does not have friends, they may not have mastered these soft skills yet.
How Do You Know If Your Child Knows Soft Skills?
Watch your child with peers. You can do so in kindergarten, during a birthday party or playdate, or at the playground.
Do you see your child happy to share toys, play appropriately, and be emotionally aware? Or do you see your child playing alone? Perhaps your child cries or screams easily in situations where they do not get what they want.
Maybe you witness aggressive behavior. No child is a monster, and even if you observe biting or hitting, don’t despair. Talk to a kindergarten teacher about your child’s behavior. Your child may show a different attitude with peers than at home, surrounded by adults.
Talk to your child about this problem. Take your little one seriously when mentioning troubles at kindergarten or school and remain open about it.
What Happens If Your Child Does Not Find Any Friends?
If your child continues having difficulties making friends, it can have serious consequences on their social life. Children without friends are more likely to be ostracized or bullied. They can easily get the feeling that something is wrong with them. This feeling needs to be counteracted by all means by their guardians.
When children look at us, they need to see that we believe that they are loveable and able to make friends.
Ostracized children are sick more often. They are more prone to depression, nightmares, and avoid social interactions. They lack concentration, are lethargic, and can develop feelings of loneliness. In severe cases, friendless children can even show self-mutilating behavior and develop suicidal thoughts.
Many ostracized children become so-called class clowns to attract attention. Though, being loud can make it more difficult to make friends since they are seen as attention-seekers.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Child’s Situation?
If you notice behavioral patterns in your child that may prevent them from making friends, it is important to react.
Start by reassessing your own communication and behavior at home and with others. Are you a good role model for your child? Are you honest and friendly, and do you show empathy when talking to others? Always remember that your child learns from you first.
Revise what you are teaching your child. Are you promoting and teaching soft skills? Talk to your child and reassure them of your love. Show and explain that they are lovable and should not give up making friends.
Talk about previous situations and explain what went well and what they could improve. Encourage your child and praise them for well-managed situations, i.e., when sharing a toy.
What Else Can You Do Long-Term to Help Your Child Make Friends?
The main goal is to strengthen your child’s confidence. Mastering the essential soft skills will make your child more comfortable with peers. Be consistent when teaching the basics like sharing and having manners.
Teach your child how to communicate politely and invite another child to a playdate. Role-plays can prepare your child for these situations.
If your child is shy, you can help by putting them in situations to practice with others. Give them small experiences. Stick to a small group of people rather than a big group to avoid shyness. This way, they can get comfortable with one person. Then, they can attend a birthday party with this person to become a part of a friendship group.
Know your child’s friends and peers, too. It makes it easier to get involved and help if there is a problem.
What Should Parents Avoid Doing When Children Show Difficulties Making Friends?
Do not get over-involved to help your child make friends. Naturally, you want to help them to enjoy their youth and make friends. But don’t push your child! Allow them the time to learn soft skills and make small steps at a time. If you jump in too soon, it will send a wrong message and undermine your child’s competencies.
You want your little one to have confidence in social situations. But, over-involved parents can have a counterproductive effect. It can be embarrassing for your child if you make other children play with them.
Don’t expect your child to have dozens of friends. That should not be the goal and is not necessary. Instead, praise your child when they make a friend or two. Encourage your child to invite this friend over for a playdate.
Your child should never have to change their personality, so allow them to participate in activities that suit their interests. Show several options to get involved in sports or other activities with other children. If your child is shy, a book or chess group might be more desirable to them than team-based sports, such as soccer.
If your child invites another child for a playdate, avoid competitive games. Put them away while the other child is around. Your child might love jumping on a trampoline, but if they haven’t yet mastered sharing, it might not be the best activity. So, you might want to put away toys that you know your child may have difficulties sharing.
Show Your Love and Confidence in Your Child
Every child needs friends, though it’s not important to have thousands of them. Making your child feel loved will build their confidence to make friends.
Try joining in their games to show they are worthy of your time. You could also ask for their opinion on age-appropriate situations to show their opinion matters. Spending time with your child shows that they are a fun company.