We are happy to have once again Dr Maryhan Baker share with us her top tips on how to help children create positive friendships.
Over to Maryhan…
There is nothing which pulls at a mothers heartstrings more than hearing their child say that no-one wanted to play with them that day at playtime in school. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to charge into school to tell some little boy or girl to stop being mean to my child and to play with them, or else!! However this really is the last thing to do as it only disempowers your child and is likely to have them singled out as a ‘baby’. So here are my top five strategies on help your child create and maintain lasting friendships:
1. Role play
This can be used to help shy children practice initiating play as well as working through conflict resolution. The idea is to take the fear out of them using their voice to ask another child to play with them or to be firm with another child about boundaries. Make it fun and take turns being your child as well as the friend. Children learn so much by doing.
2. Promote their emotional intelligence
Emotionally intelligent children have better quality, longer lasting friendships because they not only understand their own emotions and those of others; they know how to adapt their behaviour in response to the social cues of a situation. So use emotional language all the time at home with your children, label emotions and discuss ways you can switch from one emotion to another.
3. Encourage good listening skills
Being able to listen and respond appropriately is key to good friendships. So if your child has a tendency to interrupt teach them to actively listen to what others are saying rather than formulating a response. A simple technique of counting to three or five before they respond should help.
4. Teach them to take turns
When children say that no one wanted to play with them, it usually means no one wanted to play their game. So it’s key to teach your child to take turns. This can be as simple as a game of pass the spoon, where the only person who is loved to talk is the person holding the spoon. Taking turns choosing television programmes, waiting for their hug, etc all helps too.
5. Promote problem solving
When your child comes home from school with a friendship issue don’t race in with a solution; it won’t teach your child anything. Instead coach them through the problem so they can find their own solutions to try at school the next day and then feedback to you.