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Learning how to make and keep friends is an important part of growing up for your child. Having friends is good for children’s self-esteem, wellbeing and ability to get along with others. Here are some frequently asked questions about children’s friendships.
Is it normal to worry about my child’s friends and friendships?
Yes. Parents often worry about whether their children have enough friends, are happy in their friendships, are getting along well with other children and so on. These concerns are normal as your child becomes more independent of you and more interested in his friends. You’ll probably find that other parents with children around the same age share some of the same concerns.
Getting to know your child’s friends is a great way to support their friendships, and might also put your mind at ease.
My child came home from school and said “No-one likes me”: what can I do?
This can really tug on your heart strings. No-one likes to feel this way, and no-one wants a child to feel this way.
When your child tells you something like this, she might need some help talking about her feelings or she might prefer some quiet time. When she’s ready to talk, you can ask what happened and why she thinks no-one likes her.
Sometimes there’s a simple solution. Your child might need to learn the rules of a new game so he can join in, or he might need some things to say so he can invite others to play with him.
If it seems to be an ongoing problem, you can talk to your child’s teacher to find out more about what’s happening. Schools often have ways of helping children to feel included.
You could also support your child’s self-esteem, so she has the confidence to join in with play at school.
My child has only a few close friends: should l be worried?
Not necessarily. Some children are happy with just a few close friends, or even one friend. Your child doesn’t need to be the most popular child in the class to be happy, confident and accepted by other children.
My child seems to play with different friends each day: is this normal?
Yes. Your child might move from one friend or group to another until he finds someone who shares his interests. School-age children tend to have one or two close friends and often a wider group of friends that they also play with. These friendships can change quickly.
We’re new to the area: how can I help my child make friends?
- Give your child plenty of opportunities to play with other children. This could be a playdate with other children from your child’s class at a family gathering or at a local park.
- Join one or two out-of-school activities, like sport, drama, craft or music, to help your child meet other children who share the same interests.
- Ask at school about strategies for helping new children fit in – a buddy system, for example.
- Look up activities and services for families in your local area.
- Teach your child to introduce herself to children she doesn’t know.
My child argued with his friend at school today: how can I help him sort it out?
Elementary school-age children often have disagreements with their friends, but they usually sort them out pretty quickly.
When your child comes to you with a friendship problem, start by spending some time together and finding out what’s happening. Try giving your child some suggestions about how he could sort out the problem. If you’re concerned, talk to your child’s teacher to find out what has happened.
My child doesn’t talk about her school friends any more: what can I do?
Try talking to your child about her friends. If she doesn’t want to talk about her friends you could ask your child’s teacher for more information. Teachers often see what happens in the playground and can give you a clear picture of what’s going on. If you think your child is being bullied, talk to the school about what can be done to stop this.
My child doesn’t seem to be invited to as many playdates and parties as other children: should I be worried?
No, there can be a lot of reasons why your child might not be invited to lots of parties and playdates. Perhaps he has a smaller group of friends or his friends do after-school activities or are in after-school care.
Sometimes a playdate at your house can break the ice with a new friend (and parent) and might lead to an invitation. Talk with your child about which children she’d like to invite and help her invite them.
Supporting your school age child’s friendships like this is a great way to get to know children at your child’s school and encourage healthy friendships.
If you are concerned that your child is having trouble making and keeping friendships you might also want to talk to a professional. Ask your child’s teacher whether there’s a school counsellor who could help. Your doctor can refer you to professionals in your area who can help you and your child.
My child has special needs: how can I help with friendships at school?
Friendships and healthy school relationships for children with special needs can start from shared interests, similar to other children. If you encourage your child to follow his interests, this gives him a chance to meet other children who enjoy the same things as he does.
© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.
Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Self Esteem Ages 6 to 10