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6 Ways to Coach Kids on Making Friends

Submitted by on April 10, 2012 – 7:02 am2 Comments

Playdate with 3 girls

Coaching Kids on Friendship Building

by Dr. Caron Goode

Providing opportunities for peer interaction and playtime  nurture connections that blossom into friendships. Building friendships isn’t something that every child learns how to do naturally. In fact learning to be a friend and cultivating a friendship are learned skills that promote good social, mental and emotional health as they grow and develop.

Fortunately, we can coach our children on building friendships by:

1. Helping our children grow comfortable around others. Attending play groups, mommy and me classes, or local library story times from a young age expose children to their peers. These gatherings provide a natural opportunity for observation and interaction, which can build a child’s comfort level.

2.  Preparing our children for social interactions. Before leaving for a birthday party or outing, for example, let your child know what to expect. Talk about who will be there, what activities you may do and how long you’ll stay. Ask which child she would like to play with. Ask him what games he can invite a new friend to participate in?

3.  Role play. Practice interactions by pretending you are a friend or by using her dolls to act out social scenarios, like meeting someone for the first time. Practicing how to act in different situations builds confidence as well as conversation.

4. Talk about what it means to be a good friend. Talk about what a good friend says and does (and doesn’t say and doesn’t do). Practice these conversations and act out how good friends treat each other. Share a story about a good friendship you have.

5. Find children with similar interests: Bring your child where there are other children with similar interests where they connect with other children who like to color, swim, dance, take karate, watch dogs in the dog park, visit a pet store, or enjoy an after-school program once a week. If your child loves art, consider signing her up for an art class. If she loves sports, enroll her in an age-appropriate program at the local YMCA.

6.  Encourage playdates. If you notice your child has a connection with another child, speak to the parent about getting the kids together. Opportunities to play naturally lend themselves to friendship building or meeting at a local park or playground get both of you out of the house.

While we can’t make our children’s friends for them, we certainly can set them up for success by helping them learn how to make friends and how to be a good friend.

Dr. Goode is the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents International, a global online school for training successful, parenting coaches in home-based businesses. She is the author of fifteen books, including the international best seller, Kids Who See Ghosts, the national award-winner Raising Intuitive Children. See and review all of Dr. Goode’s books here.  Dr. Goode is also the founder of HeartWise Parent, learning center for parents and Live-Spirit.com, which provides tools for spiritual living.

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