I love this question about how to help kids make friends because it comes up a lot in clinic.
I think it's one of those topics that's really hard for parents. It's hard to see our kids struggle socially because we get how important that is for our kids, in terms of, how they feel about themselves, how they feel they're doing in the world.
What skills are important for making friends?
Talk to them about, what are the fundamental skills that are important when making friends. How do you start a conversation, making good eye contact, taking an interest in what they are saying, following those facial and social cues about when a conversation is over, when do I need to start a new subject?
How can parents help their children during the process?
It's better for parents to just watch their kids and follow their lead and capitalize on what they're doing well.
Wow, that was really good. You did a really nice job making eye contact. You did a really nice job asking that question. You did a really nice job of letting Johnny go first, and catching them in those fundamental social skills when they're doing it right.
Then the other piece of that is just looking for opportunities for them to get exposed to those learning situations. You're making sure they're involved in activities and making sure they're getting that peer to peer interaction.
What should parents avoid doing?
Sometimes we get over involved in our kid's social lives. I think it's even more prevalent these days with social media. We just have more access to kids and what they're doing with their friends.
It's important to not jump in too soon, because when we jump in too soon, we can send messages to our kids that we're questioning their competency and it really under minds what we're after, which is having them feel more confident about those social situations and that social engagement.
When your child looks in your eyes they have to get, that you believe in them. That you know they can do this. This social piece is so important for them to get that message.
Yeah, it's going to be bumpy, it's going to be awkward, and sometimes it's hard, but we know that you can do this. It's the best gift you can give your kid.