Teaching Friendship Skills

How can you help your kids make friends? SheKnows parenting expert and author of The Family Coach Method Lynne Kenney explains how to teach your child pro-social friendship skills.

SheKnows message board member Belinda4 was concerned that her kids were having a hard time making friends. She writes:

The problem

"I would like to hear about friendships. My two oldest have the hardest time making friends. They are 6yrs & 8yrs. Is that normal for that age?

I still remember and am still in contact with my best friend from kindergarten! I had great friendships growing up, sleepovers, rollerskating, riding bikes....just normal kid friendship stuff. I don't understand why my two older kids sit back and have such a hard time making friends? I will say this, my four kids are all really close in age..and they play with each other, my thinking is they are comfortable with their siblings and so they don't care if they find friends outside of the family? Does that sound like what could be happening? And if so...what do I do?"


The solution

Kenney gives this advice on helping kids make friends:

Making and keeping friends is a central part of entering school. Teaching your child prosocial friendship skills is a valuable part of your relationship with your children.

Where do you begin?

A. A few great books have been written on friendship skills. Ones from the American Girls library include: Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them; The Feelings Book, and Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends. For middle school children and teens, Queen Bees and Wanna Bees is a must-read for parents. For parents who wish to coach their teens to health and wellness, The Parent as Coach by Diana Sterling is amazing for parents of teens.

B. Healthy friendship skills begin with confidence and self-respect. Children who have self-esteem are able to be kind, share, and include others in their friendship circles.

C. Knowing your own social style and what is unique about your child is another fine starting point. Emphasizing that everyone is different and we are all special in our own ways enhances acceptance and tolerance among children.

Next page:

Tips on helping your child develop friendship skills

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