Friendships are very important to our emotional health, and the lack of friends can have a huge impact on a child. Children who struggle with making and keeping friends often experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. They are also more likely to get into trouble and drop out of school.
To a child, having even just one good friend can make a huge difference. Research shows it is not the quantity of friends children have that matters, it’s the quality of even one or two good relationships. In Making Friends is an Art, children learn how become better at making and keeping friends by teaching three basic social skills:
• How to break the ice with kids they haven’t met before.
• How to act positively with others.
• How to manage conflict constructively.
To teach these skills to a child, you must first figure out what the child is already doing right and then what the child needs to learn to do better. Specific needs vary from child to child and situation to situation. Here are some tips:
- Observe your child objectively in social settings and compare his interactions to those of well-liked children.
- Isolate the skills that your child needs to learn or use more effectively. For example, does your child interrupt others, always try to "be the boss," act aggressively toward others, or cry and pout when things don't go his way? Or, is your child excessively shy and quiet around other children, afraid to try new activities or reluctant to join a group?
- Explain the steps of the skill to your child. Relate the skill to his world-view by attaching it to a situation the child has experienced. Demonstrate how to effectively use the skill. For example: "You told me there's a new student in your class that you'd like to know and be friends with. If you want to introduce yourself to him, look at him, smile and say something like 'Hi, my name is Jason. Would you like to play catch with me during recess?'"
- Help your child practice this skill. "Now pretend I'm the new student and introduce yourself to me. What would you say?"
- Give your child constructive feedback. Always start by telling your child what he did right and then what he can improve on. Remember to teach...not criticize.
- Be patient. Teaching social skills will never be as easy as it sounds, and we are all at different levels of learning. Always try to practice what you preach. Remember: Making friends is an ART! - so get out the pencils, practice and use lots of paper!!
For more information or to purchase this book please visit Julia Cook Online