Friendships are an important part of childhood. For many this happens naturally and many kids enjoy positive friendships throughout their childhood and adolescence.
Unfortunately, for many this does not happen quite so easily. I come across so many kids/adolescents who are confused and upset regarding friendships. Maybe it is the effects of social media, American TV and/or peers but there are so many friendships based on the wrong things.
What is a friend?
A friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am, someone I can trust and rely on.”
The word friend is misused if it is identified with a person who contributes to our delinquency, misery, and heartaches. The word friend is misused if it is a person we do not know but attach ourselves to online.
And this is where the problem can lie.
The true meaning of friendship has become confusing for many. This is something we really need to discuss more with our children. Help them to be very clear about what a friend really means. Explain to them it takes time to build friendships, they may make friends with many people over their schooling years but they will probably end up with 3/4 very good ‘real’ friends if they are lucky.
Show them the meaning of ‘friend’ by letting them see how you treat your own friends, what you expect from your own friends and what you are willing to do for them.
Online chats pose a huge problem for kids today, pictures being posted without permission, comments being posted on videos and chat rooms, people talking about each other online in a negative and hurtful way. They need to understand this is not acceptable.
I see far too many kids and teens who are seriously hurting because of many of these issues.
Watch out for tell tale signs;
*they may stay in their room for longer periods of time
*they may become very distracted and angry
*they may stop going out socially
*they may stop attending sporting events/training
I realise many of these actions can be put down to growing up but YOU know YOUR child – if you notice a change in behaviour, follow up on it.
Where problems may arise –
Kids on the outskirts of ‘the popular group’ – try to explain to them just because they are the popular group does not automatically mean they would make good friends. A lot of people following the ‘popular group’ do not end up with any ‘real friends’.
Kids who are not sporty but may be in a sporty school – this can be very hard, especially for the boys as the peer group tends to be tiered depending on sporting ability. There is a ridiculously large amount of slagging given to many kids because they are not good at sport. Prepare your kids if they are attending a sporty school and are not naturally sporty. Make sure they realise there are so many other things they could be doing, debating, drama, music – whatever they have a passion for. This may not be the popular choice but it is a lot better than sending a kid to a rugby pitch who will never be a rugby player – the impact of this can be very damaging to his self-esteem. In the last 2/3 years I see a lot more boys than ever before and in my opinion some of the boys are becoming a lot more bitchy, nasty and mean.
Kids who are spoilt and used to getting their own way can find it hard to make friends. Help your kids to understand the meaning of playing, taking turns, sharing, kindness. They need the tools to feel confident around other kids and communicate in a positive way with them. Spoilt kids will very often have a much harder time making ‘real friends’. They may have friends who follow them around because they have money, big house, freedom etc but these friendships will not usually last.
Kids need playdates to bond with peers. If you are a parent working full-time try to plan playdates for the weekend. During schools hours kids are busy in the classroom, there is not a lot of time for bonding. Don’t underestimate the importance of playdates – this also gives you a chance to see who they are mixing with, how they behave around other peers, and how they are treated by their peers.
“The only way to have a friend, is to be one”. – Ralph Emmerson
If your child is having a hard time making friends;
LISTEN – give them a chance to talk so you can understand better what may be at the heart of his/her struggle making and/or keeping friends. Some kids worry about getting teased and making mistakes others feel left out and rejected by peers.
OBSERVE – Look for behaviours in your child that may be a turn off to other children. For example, does your child avoid eye contact with others? Does your child speak so quietly others can’t hear? Has your child problems sharing or taking turns?
These are examples of missing social skills – all kids need social skills to make to make friends.
SET FRIENDSHIP GOALS – Depending on how socially anxious your child may be, you may need to start with a very small goal.
*Asking a friend over for a playdate
*Asking to borrow something
*Asking to join in
*Sharing a toy with another classmate
*Saying ‘Hi’ to a classmate
*Set up regular playdates
*Encourage extra-curricular activities
*Have regular family games nights (teach them to win and loose gracefully)
*Give your child ‘icebreakers’ – pack some snacks or fun toys that they can share with other classmates.
*Speak to the teacher – do not let your child know you are speaking to the teacher this will further compound his belief that there is something wrong with him. But if you do speak to the teacher ask her to be discreet and try to sit your child with someone she feels they may bond with.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries regarding the above.Share Blog