Four Ways to Find Friends
Chances are good that your child's social struggles will get resolved on their own. But it still won't hurt to take these steps.
- Help her meet new kids. Sign her up for an after-school or weekend activity she likes, such as tennis lessons or a ballet class. "Kids this age choose friends based on similar interests and values," says Parents advisor Michele Borba, author of Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me.
- Give him a game plan. Coach your child at home on the right way to approach a social situation so he'll feel more comfortable about what to do and say when the time comes. If he wants to play with kids he doesn't know at the park, have him stand nearby and watch them, trying to establish eye contact with a child who seems friendly. When he feels ready, he should ask to join them. If he's turned down, tell him to say "Okay" and move on, without getting upset in front of them.
- Reach out to other parents. Meeting moms of your child's classmates is a great way to help her develop friendships. Try joining the PTA, volunteering for lunch duty or a book fair, or carpooling (which also lets you observe how your child relates to other kids). Once you get to know another parent, invite her family over to dinner so your kids can become better acquainted.
- Ask for assistance. If your child continues to feel left out, talk to his teacher. Your child could be overstating the problem, or his bad habits (such as constantly shouting out answers rather than raising his hand) might be alienating the other kids. Ask the teacher for suggestions on how you can build your child's social skills at home. It may take some time, but the sooner you get started, the sooner he'll feel like one of the gang.