Teaching Kids to Make New Companions
As school begins, kids look for the peers they are already familiar with so they feel at home in their new class room. But during the first few weeks of school, let them know that they are welcome to make new kids their buddies. Encourage them by explaining how to meet new peers. They may not know how to initiate these acquaintances and need your gentle suggestions.
Tips on Helping Kids Meet New Companions
1. Let your child know that they don’t have to sit on the bus with someone they know. In fact, sitting with a stranger is a good way to meet someone new.
2. Tell them that all they need to do is say, “Hi” and the other child is likely to follow suit.
3. Let your child know that all kids like to feel others want to know them, so it’s unlikely they’ll be rebuffed if they initiate a conversation with someone new.
4. Let them know that different kids are more congenial and others more on the shy side. They needn’t feel rebuffed or rejected if the other person doesn’t respond to them openly or even ignores them. Tell your kid that if they experience such reactions by the other person that only tells something about the other child, not about them and to try again with someone else.
5. Suggest to your child that at recess they invite someone new to climb on the jungle gym or play ball or share a snack. Whatever makes them feel comfortable is the right path to follow. But suggesting they invite someone to do something active with them is a good way to get
to know someone new.
6. Suggest to your child that they share something. Maybe a snack or a toy that they enjoy. Kids appreciate this kind of gesture and it’s a great way to learn what others’ like to do.
Praising Your Child for Taking Initiative with New People Builds Self-Esteem
When your child is successful in making a new acquaintance, praise them for their initiative and leadership. If they can develop this capacity it will be a life-long skill that will help them in the future. Let them know that. When they feel your approval, they will feel proud of themselves and want to incorporate their new buddies with their old ones. This is how they develop a peer group that makes school a social place to look forward to.
Learning this skill of meeting new peers also builds self-esteem tremendously. The child feels empowered to not accede to peer pressure or being in the “popular group” because they know they can meet others on their own.
Building the Parent-Child Relationship
An added gain from this new learning experience is that now you and your child discuss his or her social experiences together. This paves the way for sharing both positive and negative concerns about socializing. You and your child share a bond that will only deepen and grow as time marches on.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Visit her website for more insights: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.