How To Help Your Child Make Friends At School
As parents, we want to see our children thriving when they are at school. Their education is so important but their social interactions are equally as important.
We want our children to develop meaningful connections and to grow in confidence when it comes to interacting with children their own age. We could argue that social connections and experiences shape us even more than the facts and figures we learn as part of the school curriculum.
For some children, making friends at school happens really easily. It may be a case of logistics in that the children that they attended play school with went on to the same primary school as they did. At that point, friendships had already started to form and now have even more time to grow and flourish.
Every child is different though. Personalities can make a huge difference in how our children communicate with other children. A child who is shy in nature may take a little bit more time to make friends than a child who is very confident and vocal.
Children also react to change in different ways. One child may experience high levels of anxiety when they start in a new classroom for example. Even moving seats in their classroom can be a huge trigger that has a lasting impact. It is important not to generalise and to allow children to do things in their own time.
If you notice that your child is struggling to make friends at primary school there may be a couple of things you can help with.
1. Enquire about the school’s birthday party policy. Before you know it an invite may come your way for the first of many celebrations. When children see each other outside of the classroom it can have a positive influence on their interactions. They’ll be running around a play centre playing together and remembering each other come school time on Monday.
2. Apart from birthday parties, parent WhatsApp groups are a great way to interact with other parents. This can be a great way to encourage play dates and to share information about extracurricular activities that your child may benefit from doing.
3. Ask your child about the kids in their class. Mentioning their names and traits may encourage your child to think about them more and therefore interact more when they see them. You might highlight something they have in common or that they are a nice boy or girl. It’s subtle but might just make it seem safer for them if Mammy or Daddy is on board with that person.
4. Communicate with your child and their teacher to rule out any unsavoury behaviour which may be putting your child off playing with other kids. If the teacher is aware they may be able to alter things to encourage better interaction between some of the kids.
5. Remember that every child socialises differently. While encouraging confidence is important it is also equally important to allow a child’s personality to guide them.
6. Pick up some books or download an app that focuses on friendship and having fun with other children.
7. Wherever possible try to help your child learn how to cope with difficult social situations. They may open up about someone not sharing or shouting at them. It is important to arm them with the tools to deal with that in an appropriate way.
8. Don’t forget to be sympathetic. Your little one’s world is awash with change and developmental leaps. Sympathy and empathy will encourage your child to talk more and your words will have a greater impact when they feel this sense of safety.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.