Going back to school can be exciting -- or dreadful. If your child has some social anxiety or struggles to make friends, learning that they won't know a soul in their new classroom is a bummer.
When it comes to social issues, a child may need some help at home to learn to connect at school. Here are some tips for how to help a student who struggles to make friends.
1. Practice Social Skills at Home
Practice makes progress. If your student is having a hard time connecting with others, some role playing at home can do wonders. Talk about how to share, how to be a gracious host at a play date, and how to approach other kids to ask them to play. Acting out these interactions with a safe person such as mom or dad can help build confidence that transfers to the classroom. In some cases, you might even want to develop a script that your child can grow comfortable with and then use on potential friends.
2. Plan Playdates
If it's hard to get a word in edgewise at school, try connecting with parents to organize a playdate. Talk to your child about things like how to tell if your friends are having a good time and how to know when it's time to move on to the next game. Turning your child into a great playdate host at home can result in their classmates including them more in activities back at school.
3. Look for Other Solo Kids
Sometimes it's hard to make friends because everyone else seems to be tight already. Infiltrating a clique may be very defeating! Look for other kids who are also going solo. Sometimes being strategic when seeking out friends will yield the best results. Encourage your kid to reach out to other kids who seem lonely to make a connection. It might also be helpful to seek out friendships outside of the classroom, such as sports clubs or theater groups. These places are great practice grounds for learning to make friends.
Back to school doesn't have to be lonely! Above all else, don't put too much pressure on your child to make a friend on day one. Sometimes it takes time to cultivate friendships, and not every play date will end with a BFF.
If your child struggles to make or keep friends or seems anxious in social settings, consider The Brain Balance Program. Brain Balance has worked with over 30,000 children and their families, and we know we can help yours, too.