All parents want for their children to feel included and accepted by their peers. As adults, most of us can probably recall a time when we felt left out or excluded from the “in” crowd. Perhaps we were chosen last for a game of kickball, or had to sit alone at the lunch table, or didn’t get invited to a birthday party. Human beings are wired to be in relationship, and we all yearn for positive, meaningful connections with others. Having good friends adds a richness and element of happiness to life that cannot be measured, and helps children grow to be well-adjusted, emotionally healthy adults.
Making friends just seems to come naturally to some children, while others consistently struggle with navigating the sometimes rocky road of playground politics. In order to foster friendships, children must be able to listen and communicate effectively, empathize, problem-solve, control impulses, and negotiate/cooperate with their peers. These important social skills are not automatic and can require time, practice, and guidance to fully develop.
Here are some tips for helping your child foster and maintain friendships: