It is not unusual if you find that your child has a problem making friends. You may suddenly notice that your child keeps to himself and does not communicate with other kids. Believe it or not, this is a typical childhood experience.
Having problems making friends may lead to your child being ridiculed, rejected or ignored by his peers. He will feel lonely, isolated and friendless. A child having a social problem like this may face difficulties upon reaching adulthood. As an adult, he may face problems such as getting along with his colleagues, his superiors, finding a spouse, etc.
The following are recommended suggestions on your role as a parent to help your child to overcome his social problems.
• Create opportunities for your child to interact or play with other kids. Examples are by going on picnics with other families or friends, going to the park, to church activities or on play dates. Encourage him to participate in school clubs or activities. Your child may be having problems making friends in school but not outside. The goal is to give your child plenty of opportunities to practice socializing.
• Collaborate with his teacher. Besides the parents, the teacher would be the next person who can help in this situation. The teacher can give a clearer picture to the problem your child is facing in school and may play an important role to assist him.
• Become your child’s best friend. Your child still lacks maturity and may see a harmless or innocuous situation in a negative or bad way. For example, he may jump into his own conclusion that there must be something wrong with him when he is not invited to a friend’s party. Another example is if a kid is mean to him in school, he will make the same wrong assumption. Your role is to listen, empathize, see his point of view, give your views, impart your knowledge and wisdom and give your support.
• Be patient and do not rush your child. Realize that teaching and guiding your child to solve his problem is an ongoing gradual process. In the end, the outcome is more significant as a result of long practice and repetition.
• Lay emphasis on kindness. Teach your child all about being kind to himself, his parents, his siblings and also to his friends or peers. Knowing and practicing kindness indirectly will help your child to get along with others. Through an act of kindness, a friendship bond is formed and through many acts of kindness, the bond becomes stronger. It is about respecting, helping and caring for one another.
• Understand your child. What is his personality or character? Is he an introvert or pessimist? Does he possess leadership qualities, a short temper or is he a sensitive person? Understanding your child will help you to see his problem clearly. Hence, you can help and advice him more effectively.
If you notice that your child is persistently having problems that are seriously affecting his social interaction, get him checked for Asperger’s syndrome. Children with Asperger’s syndrome have a social learning disability and have trouble relating to other people and understanding other people’s feelings or emotions.
To increase your knowledge on social skills, you can grab helpful books like the examples below from the local library:
- Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson and Catherine O. Grace.
- Helping the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In by Stephen Nowicki Jr. and Marshall P. Duke.
- How to Raise a Child with a High EQ: A Parent’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence by Lawrence E. Shapiro.
Check out the All About Parenting Blog, for more information on the interesting subject of “Friends“.