Whether it’s the lack of invitations to parties or seeing your child sitting alone in the playground, friendship problems can spark huge anxiety for parents.
It is important to remember your child’s limited friendships are only a problem if your child is unhappy.
Some children are perfectly content having just one friend or spending a lot of time on their own.
Here are some tips to help encourage friendships and deal with problems.
If your child tells you other children won’t let them play or shares other worries about friendships, listen and accept their feelings. Don’t play down their fears. Acknowledge them and guide them towards solutions.
Whether your child is having difficulties with friendships due to being quiet and reserved or overly boisterous and controlling, be careful about labelling your child. Labels such as bossy or shy can be very self-fulfilling and may put your child in a role you want to avoid.
Children learn from watching others so your behaviour can inadvertently influence how your child interacts with other children. If you feel anxious in social situations, you may find your child is also nervous. Try role modelling to demonstrate how to act in social situations. Skills such as holding a conversation and basic social rules like sharing belongings, being considerate and compromising can all be role-modelled in daily life.
Arrange supervised play dates
It can be easy to avoid having friends over if there are problems but this provides little opportunity for children to practise social skills. Try to invite friends who may help boost skills and supervise play to keep things on track.
Praise positive behaviour
Offer lots of descriptive praise when your child displays social skills you want to encourage, and back these up with rewards if necessary.