Parent Magazine St. Johns October 2019 - Page 8

Helping Your Child Build Friendships By Jan Pierce, M.Ed. F or many kids, building friendships comes as person. But they gravitate toward those with positive naturally as breathing in air or waking up in the social skills, knowing they’ll be appreciated, be safe and morning. For others, the process is filled with have fun with that person. landmines of fear, anxiety and discouragement. Experts agree that friendship-building is a skill—it can be What Can Parents Do? learned. How can you help your child improve friendship-making The Popular Kids skills? What can you do at home to model healthy Popular children, those successful in making friends, child without intruding and undermining confidence? have strong pro-social skills. They show caring for others, often wanting to share something with them or help them in some way. They have strong verbal skills, so they can carry on conversations. They’re able to curb their own selfish or aggressive behaviors and instead are good at understanding the feelings of others and seeing others’ perspectives. They’re able to make good choices to help avoid arguments or problems. In general, children will reject those they perceive to be aggressive, disruptive, irritable, bossy or selfish. The negative character traits raise a red flag: there could be trouble ahead for those who spend time with that 8 | S T. J O H N S parent M A G A Z I N E interpersonal relationships? How can you support your If your child is one who struggles with making new friends, there are simple ways to help sidestep relationship landmines. Here are four ways you can empower your children to navigate the often murky waters of friendship-building. 1. Develop Positive Social Skills Help your child develop those necessary positive social skills such as empathy, cooperation, problem-solving and clear communication. Begin now to model and discuss ways to be a friend. Help your child notice when