As children get older they often become more reluctant to speak to new people. Help your child come up with some ‘getting to know you questions’ so they feel prepared when the opportunity comes up to make a new friend. Conversation openers and compliments such as ‘How do you run that fast?!’ or ‘I really like your lunchbox’ can be great ice breakers.
At this stage your child is interested in learning about why? Why is the sky blue? Why can’t I have chocolate for breakfast? Why do I have to go to bed? Use this as an opportunity to help them understand the ‘social rules’. Replacing “because I said so” with a conversation about why it’s not kind to point and laugh, for example is much more beneficial for a young inquisitive mind. A child who has learnt why certain behaviours are considered unkind is less likely to repeat them and damage fledgling friendships.
CBBC have published some more great advice on helping primary school children make friends
There can be a lot of pressure for teenagers to have a big group of friends – but this isn’t always the best. Talk to your teen about how quality is more important than quantity when it comes to friendships. It’s easy for teenagers to fall into the trap of believing that school is the only place to meet people, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Look together for clubs or activities that support an existing or new interest – perhaps there’s a local hockey club or band starting up and needing recruits? There will be plenty of new faces there with a guaranteed shared interest to get the ball rolling.
The children's society found that teenagers who are happy make friends more easily - and that one of the biggest factors influencing happiness for teenagers is their relationship with their parents. Take the time to switch off the screens and talk to your teenager as often as you can. Find out what’s going on in their world – be patient! It might take some time but when they see that you are genuine they will open up. A final tip; teenagers often struggle with non-verbal communication, especially when talking to new people. Try discussing (and practicing) the importance of eye contact and smiling when talking to people. They may well be amazed at the difference it makes!
Childline have a great section here on their site aimed at teenagers with lots more hints and tips for making friends.
Comment below to let us know what has worked for you and your children – or tag us in your play date posts on Instagram @mosnox_kids.