Making friends doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are sixteen easy ways for your kids to build friendships this school year.
What’s your favorite part of school? The tests and homework? The cafeteria pizza? Recess?
If you ask any kid, the most common answer will be even simpler than that: Friends.
Friendships not only make school a fun place to be but also play a pivotal role in shaping children’s development. However, sometimes making friends isn’t easy. Maybe your kid moved to a new class or a different school. Maybe it’s their first day of kindergarten and they don’t know how to make friends at all.
Whatever your kid’s situation, these sixteen creative and effective tips will help your kids build friendships that can last a lifetime. From simple gestures to engaging activities, there’s something for even the shyest kid. (Or the shyest adult! Making friends isn’t just for kids, you know.)
Why Friendships Are Important
Having friends is important for several reasons, the most significant being that it aids in their social, emotional, and cognitive development. Friendships offer emotional support, help develop essential life skills, and contribute to overall well-being. With this in mind, fostering a positive environment for building and maintaining friendships is a valuable investment in a child’s future. Aside from this reason, friendships also help develop
- social skills,
- empathy and compassion,
- problem-solving skills,
- healthy socialization,
- stress-management skills,
- diverse perspectives,
- communication skills,
- positive mental health, and
- a sense of identity.
Ways for Kids to Make Friends
As you’ve seen from the information above, building friendships during the school year is an important social skill for kids. But sometimes kids don’t know where to start. Here are some ways to help them build friendships:
1. Join Group Activities
Encourage your child to join clubs, sports teams, or after-school programs that align with their interests. Shared activities provide opportunities to bond over common interests in low pressure situations.
Teach your child to smile, make eye contact, and be open to conversation. A friendly demeanor can attract potential friends without your kid having to lift a single finger.
3. Use Conversation Starters
Encourage your child to initiate conversations by asking simple questions like “What’s your favorite subject?” or “Do you like playing a particular sport?” Practice these conversation starters at home so your kid isn’t afraid to use them at school.
4. Collaborative Projects
Suggest collaborative projects, assignments, or games that require a group. Whether you work with your kid’s teacher or offer ideas for your kid’s free time, this can help your child interact with classmates and form connections.
5. Create a Lunch Challenge
Encourage your child to sit with different groups during lunch or breaks, allowing them to meet and interact with various classmates. To make this challenge easier, you can even send treats for them to share. There’s nothing like bonding over free snacks!
6. Bring Extra Pencils and Fun Band-Aids
Teach your child to be kind and empathetic towards others. For example, encourage your child to share pencils or, if someone is hurt, give out Band-Aids. Friends are more likely to be drawn to those who show genuine care and concern.
7. Listen Actively
Being a good listener is a quality that anyone would want in a friend. Help your child develop active listening skills by having good conversations at home.
8. Share Interests
Encourage your child to share their interests and hobbies with others. Common interests are a great way to bond and create meaningful connections.
9. Organize Playdates
Arrange playdates or outings with classmates outside of school. This can help deepen friendships in a more relaxed setting.
10. Celebrate Birthdays
Encourage your child to invite classmates to their birthday parties. It’s a great way to include others and foster connections.
11. Invite Others to Play
Teach your child to be inclusive and avoid excluding others during play time. It can be as simple as challenging your kid to invite at least one person to play every day. Inclusive behavior can make them more likable and approachable.
12. Break the Ice by Helping Others
If your child sees a classmate struggling with something, encourage them to offer help. Or even better, encourage your child to be the one to ask for help. Either way, it gives them a reason to talk to their peers, and acts of kindness can lead to strong friendships.
13. Start Your Day with Positive Vibes
Help your child maintain a positive attitude. You can start every day with some affirmations or a routine that puts your kid in a good mood (e.g., music and a good breakfast). Positivity attracts people and creates a welcoming environment.
14. Respect Differences
Teach your child to respect and embrace differences in others, whether it’s cultural, academic, or personal. This can lead to diverse and enriching friendships.
15. Keep Trying
Remind your child that building friendships takes time. Encourage them to be patient and persistent in their efforts.
16. Find Digital Friends
In today’s world, digital interactions also matter. Encourage your child to connect on social media platforms or through online gaming if appropriate.
Books That Help Kids Make Friends
Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.