How to Help Your Child Make Friends (and Keep Them)

A group of friends playing together

Trying to help your child make friends can be a challenge. Children’s friendships are complex. They’re likely to make and fall out with many friends throughout their childhood. It helps them learn how to communicate with others, problem solve, and develop social skills.

Many children have lots of friends, while others stick with one best friend. Some children struggle to make and keep positive friendships and will need extra support to tackle specific difficulties. 

Ways to help your child make friends

Lots of children find it difficult to make friendships. Understanding why your child is struggling can help you plan ways to best support them.

There are a range of reasons why some children struggle to make and keep friends:

  • Low self-confidence
  • Naturally shy or quiet
  • Difficulties with communication skills
  • Struggle to manage their emotions
  • Challenges with sharing and turn-taking skills
  • Different interests and hobbies

You can’t force your child to make friends, but you can tackle any underlying problems that may affect them. You could help them develop conversation skills using role play, teach turn-taking, and practise playing games if they find it hard to share or lose. 

If your child is anxious, you could invite a like-minded child over for a quieter playdate at your home to help them feel more relaxed. Start with short plays and increase the length as they build in confidence.

Child friends playing together

Falling out with friends

It’s very common for children to fall out and make up with their friends. It helps them develop communication skills and understand how friendships work.

Problems are often caused by difficulties within a group. Your child may feel left out of a larger group or desperate to make friends with the most popular children. 

As children grow, they often find they have less in common with previously good friends because their hobbies and interests change. A former strong friendship may naturally fizzle out. Expect their friendships to change as they move to secondary school and encounter new children. 

Helping your child with friendship problems

Friendship problems can cause huge upset to your child. You know they’re likely to make up again with a best friend, but it can be a big knock to their confidence. 

If your child has fallen out with a friend, listen to them, but don’t try to solve the problem they’re having. You could ask them gentle questions to help them work out what they can do to fix the situation themselves. 

Often, these small falling outs are naturally resolved over time. However, if you’re worried that this is an ongoing problem, you could ask your child’s teacher to help them move forward.

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