How to help kids make friends at school
The average student likely spends more time at school and participating in extracurricular activities with classmates than he or she does at home. In close proximity to so many peers, it may seem like making friends would be a snap. However, some students have trouble connecting and can use a little push to make friends.
The family and parenting resource Parenting Science notes that research indicates that the most popular children are those who exemplify certain traits. These traits include being caring; a willingness to share; a willingness to offer help; and strong verbal skills. Children who embrace these traits may prove better at making friends. Parents may find that youngsters need some encouragement to build their social circles, and the following are some ways parents can offer that encouragement.
• Encourage kids to seek out someone on their own. It may be challenging to walk up to a group and introduce yourself. Encourage students to seek out someone who is alone and then strike up a conversation, which can be less intimidating than approaching a group. Emphasize to kids that other students may also be a little shy and looking to make friends.
• Practice conversation starters at home. Children can work with their parents to come up with topics that can help foster communication. These can include ice breakers and common interests, such as favorite television shows or video games.
• Teach kids approachable body language. Wearing earbuds or exhibiting negative body language, such as crossed arms or avoiding eye contact, can make a person seem less approachable. Smiling, engaging in conversation and being friendly can make it easier to make friends.
• Ask teachers to help. The education resource Understood says teachers can give children responsibilities, such as the opportunity to hand out snacks or papers, which can build confidence and provide opportunities for kids to converse with their peers.
• Help children be active listeners. An active listener is someone who makes it clear that he or she is paying attention. Making eye contact, orienting the body toward the speaker and making relevant verbal responses are some active listening strategies that can help kids more fully engage with their peers. Feeling valued and listened to may encourage other children to be more friendly and engaging.
• Ask open questions. The social networking advisement site Young Scot suggests having students ask open questions, such as: “How was your summer?” or “What sports do you like to play?” These types of questions can kick-start in-depth conversations.
• Join a team or club. Students often make friends in social or extracurricular settings, such as on a sports team. With a shared interest, it’s easy to find topics to discuss.
Making friends in school can make time spent in the classroom more enjoyable for youngsters.