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How can I help my son make friends?

December 16, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I help my son make friends? | A group of children hold hands, smiling as they run through a field.

Question submitted on Twitter: My first grader is sad and says he doesn't have friends, but the teacher says everything seems fine. How can I help him?

Answer: Friendships are essential for a child's social development. You have taken the best first steps: identifying an issue with your child, and communicating with the teacher to compare notes. As a parent, you can help by fostering your child's positive social skills, an important lesson from the Through Elementary and Middle School YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book. 

To do this, talk to your child about what being a good friend means, and demonstrate these skills to your child through interactions with your own friends, and even strangers. Positive social skills include being polite, kind, trustworthy, etc. Teaching positive social skills will help your child make friends and maintain them. Then talk with your child to find out who he considers a friend, and which classmates he would like to be friends with.

Help your child find ways to make new friends and practice his social skills. Meet the parents of those children to set up play dates. Enroll your child in an extracurricular activity to meet children with similar interests. And finally, talk with the teacher to find opportunities in the classroom for your child to be paired up with those classmates he or she would like to become friends with. 

Continue to monitor your child's positive social skills and talk with your child about his or her friendships. These skills and friendships will continue to be important as your child navigates the world. 

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