The knowledge that your child doesn’t have friends, will upset any parent. Often this has to do with personality, but other factors can also be a cause. There are ways to help your child to socialise.
Children have to know what friendship entails. Explain to her that friends are kind to one another, share, never leave each other in the lurch, are always there for one another, like spending time together and having fun together, and that you don’t need to have a host of friends to show how popular you are. One good friend is a good frame of reference for what kind of friends you like and is a good forum for practising friendship.
Be prepared to acknowledge that your child might often not be the perfect friend herself. You as parent know her the best. Have you observed her quietly in social situations or even when she is playing with her siblings? If she doesn’t like to share, teach her generosity. Is she aggressive? Teach her to curb her temper. Is she loud and ill-mannered, or does she talk the whole time without given other children the opportunity to speak? Point out to her in a loving way that her behaviour pushes friends away from her. Teach her more positive behaviour by setting the example.
Your child may be shy and appear to be unfriendly. Begin at home by giving your child’s self-image a boost. Let her feel loved and safe and know that she is accepted. Emphasise her positive attributes and praise her accordingly. Teach her social skills, such as looking other children in the eye, smiling in a friendly manner and making positive remarks. Teach her how to initiate a conversation. Practise at home through role-play.
Listen to your child, ask her how her day at school was and try to determine why the children don’t want to play with her. It could possibly be that her best friend had an argument with her and that she feels rejected, while many other children would like to play with her. Talk to the teacher to try and establish what happens at school and during social interactions. If bullying is mentioned, see if you and the teacher can find a solution to the problem together.
Encourage her to participate in extramural activities. Children with mutual interests often bond with one another.
Arrange play dates. It could be with a mom you know, whose child is also in your child’s class. Or ask the teacher for a list of names of children who you might be able to invite over.
Friendships cannot be forced. The final decision rests with the child herself to make friends with children she feels attracted to, with whom she gets along well.
Never ignore the problem by shrugging and saying, “My child is an introvert and that is that”. This can have a negative influence on her schoolwork and even on her social behaviour in her adult life. It may sometimes be necessary to, slowly but carefully, with accompaniment and encouragement, push her out of her comfort zone.
Be realistic about your child’s unique temperament and personality, which should be a guideline as to how much social interaction she needs.
Always be a positive role-model for your child for healthy friendships. Even if you yourself are shy, how do you reach out to others? How do you talk to friends, your neighbours, people waiting with you in a queue, other parents next to the sports ground?
With the correct guidance you can help your child to forge life-long friendships.