Helping Your Child Build Friendships
By Jan Pierce, M.Ed.
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