Parenting tricks: Q How Do You Teach Your Child to Develop Friendships When You Yourself Are No Good at It?

By on February 16, 2015
Q   How Do You Teach Your Child to Develop Friendships When You Yourself Are No Good at It?  My 9-year-old daughter is having a difficult time in school. She says she has no friends and cries before and after school. Her grades are good, and she has no behavioral issues. She simply has a difficult time making friends. Her teacher says my daughter is liked by all of her classmates but seems to drift from group to group without any good friends. Play dates are seldom if ever reciprocated, and extracurricular activities have not resulted in friendships either. Unfortunately, I am not much help here since I have never had a gregarious social life and as a happy introvert have never had more than a good friend or two. Ditto for Dad. How do you teach the art of making friends to your child when you have never been much good at it yourself?

A: You and Dad need to look back and remember what each of you did to make the connection with those one or two good friends. Then you two need to be really open with your daughter about having experienced the same struggles she’s going through, and telling her how you two coped. You can explain in age-appropriate terms that some people are more gregarious and outgoing, and some are quieter and shyer. The world needs both kinds of people! But you and Dad know from experience that the school years are hard for quieter people like all of you. Maybe you can help your daughter identify another introvert and orchestrate some get-togethers. Definitely consult with the teacher on this and see if she can help with getting your daughter into some one-on-one activities with other girls or boys who could also use a friend.
If your daughter has neighbors or family members her age whom she can more naturally spend time with, nurture that. I’d love to hear from readers who themselves went through this or had kids with the same difficulty and who came up with good solutions.


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