How can I help my children make friends?

I want my kids to have lots of friends now and when they grow up (Photo: Courtesy)

Hi Chris,

I’ve started to realise just how much it matters to my children that that they’re popular, and that their friends like them, and want to play with them.

Is there anything I can do to help them? Because I’m a bit of a loner myself, and so I’m not sure I’m a particularly good role model!

But I’d really like them to do better than me, and have lots of good friends, both now and when they grow up.

Any suggestions?

Popular Kids

Chris says,

Hi Popular Kids

Yes, you certainly can help your children to make friends! And you should, because learning those skills will make a big difference to their whole lives. Like for example, how even the tiniest children prefer to play with children who have already acquired good social skills.

And there are two that really matter. The first’s not being shy! Most tiny children go through a phase of hiding behind your skirts. But that’s not cute! Because being shy is a real curse once you’re an adult. So how a parent treats a shy child has a major impact on their whole life.

All you have to do is to help them to talk to other people. So help your children to find the right words, and to be confident. Be confident with other people yourself, even if you have to fake it to begin with.

Encourage lots of small children into your home and help them play together. Because if your home’s full of family, friends and neighbours, your children will learn how to get on with everyone. And they’ll start making more friends without even trying.

Touch your children lots. Because children who grow up in a family which is full of touching, hugging and kissing grow up comfortable with themselves, self-confident and assured.

The other social skill you need to teach all your children is to be good listeners!

Especially teach your small children how to be good at reading other people’s emotions. Because the more your children understand other children’s feelings, the more they’ll be liked by their classmates.

So play games with your children like ‘Guess how I feel’ and ‘Am I telling the truth?’ You pretend something like being sad or happy and ask your kids to guess what you’re feeling. Or tell a story with whoppers in it, and fidget or cover your mouth for each lie!

Once your children start to pick up cues like these, all the other children will love them. And you’ll have set them off on a very successful social life. Because we all feel closer to people who listen to our emotions, and not just to our words.

All the best,