One of the most significant tasks of childhood is a social networking, and preserving the social network over time. Successful social relationships significantly affect the child's self-image. Your son feels wanted, friends like your daughter and what she does, and this contributes to a high self-esteem. For some children this is natural and a part of their emotional development process. Other children find it hard to cope in their social environment – they find it difficult to make friends, join groups, tend to fight and react with anger, and fail to maintain friendships over time. These children need guidance and training every day so they can enhance and practice their social skills, and internalize them. Sounds complicated? We will try to make it easier...
So what can we do?
Making new friends is one of the primary skills a child needs upon entering the a new environment (like kindergarten, school, neighborhood).
Explain to your child how to introduce themselves:
Create eye contact - look at the child who you’re speaking with.
Smile - this would imply you want to connect.
Introduce yourself - "Hi, my name is Gil, what's your name?" If you have a nickname you want other to call you by, you should note it ("my name is Gil, but everyone calls me G.")
Say something nice ("That’s a really cool dress", "I think you’re a good basketball player"). Tell them something about yourself – where you live, which classes you take, your hobbies.
Show interest in the other child – "where are you from?" "what do you like to do?"
Call for action - Ask them to play now or in the future / sit next to them, etc.
It is recommended to role-play and practice at home with dolls- sometimes the child will act as themselves and sometime as the friend.
Before a first meeting with other children, discuss these points, and encourage your child to initiate contact with new children.
2. Help Them Initiate Social Encounters:
Advise your child to invite new friends over, and expand his or her social circle. If your child can’t get friends to cooperate easily, allowing him or her to offer more "attractive" invitations like coming to see a movie and have pizza, bake cookies, play on a trampoline or swim. Sometimes children need help raising their initial appeal. Role play – suggest ta game of "what if?". Present common social situations and let your child respond to the situation and cope with problems. For example – what do you say on the phone when you want to invite a friend? Or, Your child wants to visit a friend but the friend prefers to watch TV and does’nt want to play. Perhaps your child and the friend don’t want to play the game. What to do when you lose the game? What does your child is plan to do with their friend? What does she wants to offer her friend? Are there any toys or objects that your child would rather not share with a friend? The more issues that can be clarified in advance, the more likely that your child will find it easier and more comfortable to encounter and successfully deal with the different situations. Before a social meeting, remind your child about behavioral codes (focus on things that are relevant to your child) - do not shout at friends, don’t touch friends in a way that they don’t want to be touched, don’t take things without permission, and be polite to your friends and their parents. Plan these play dates in advance with your child.
3. ""Lessons Learned"" - After a play date, ask your child - how did it go? What did he enjoy most? What was less pleasant? Give her feedback on things you may have noticed - "It was very nice of you to let your friend choose what to play ...", "I liked the way you invited your brother to join the game"
4. Play Board Games With Your Child:
Board games allow your child to practice skills such as following rules, waiting your turn, losing and winning, negotiating, patience and respect. Do not help him to win, his friends won’t do that either... Emphasized the fun of playing together, praise him for good moves and strategy, always stick to the rules, learn to reach agreements with other players, and cope with loss with dignity!
5. Talk to your child about his relationships with friends and daily social dilemmas:
Show interest - check in with your child every day regarding their battery level. Who charged their battery and who drained it? A short conversation can provide you a lot of information regarding your child’s experiences.When your child shares some social distress ("They took something from me, bullied me, laughed at me ...") don’t overreact – a non-proportional reaction from the parent triggers an extreme reaction from the child as well.Send a message to your child that you trust they can handle the situation– check with them what they felt when...? What do they think can be done next time etc...Think together about the possible courses of action - do not rush to act in place of your child! The conversation with the teacher or a friend's parents should be kept as a last option, only after the child tried to cope by himself. Remember, handling a situation properly will strengthen your child, and contribute to a sense of independence and personal strength.
6. Encourage your child to spend time with children that make her feel good about herself and recharge her battery.
7. Give positive feedback on social conduct: Don’t take this for granted - "It was wonderful to see how you played with Roy", "Well done for letting Danna have your toy", "You are so mature! Well done for getting in touch with the teacher and sharing with her!"