Realizing that your child is having difficulty making friends is an upsetting experience for any caring parent. Don’t despair, however: your role as a parent can greatly influence your child’s ability to make and maintain friendships. Here are top three tips for parents searching for the solution to their child’s isolation:
1. Identify why your child has no friends at school by reaching out to your child’s school teacher
If your school-aged child is having a hard time making connections with others, you will first need to identify the source of the issue. Get insight into your child’s school day by reaching out to your child’s teacher. Your child’s school teacher holds a wealth of knowledge related to the day-to-day interactions of your child with their peers in the classroom. Reach out through email, phone or schedule a conference to find out if your child is isolating themselves from friendships, being isolated by others or facing another issue that you’re unaware of at home.
2. Empowered with your new knowledge, understand why your child has no friends by speaking to them directly
Empowered with new insight from your child’s teacher, the conversation you have with your child at home will now be more productive for both parent and child. A child that is isolating themselves from peers is facing an entirely different challenge than a child who is being bullied. Therefore, the conversation you have with your child is dependent on the situation at hand.
Here are some topics that could inform you of your child’s current emotions, and give you the best chance at helping them in the future:
- Ask your child who their friends are at school, or what they look for in a friend at school
- Practice social interactions with your child at home, in a manner that is comfortable for them.
- Ask your child what the other children play at recess
- Ask your child how the other kids in their class choose friends
3. Prepare your child to make friends in the future and support them along the way
Give your child opportunities to practice social skills as often as you can. Extracurriculars outside of the school day can be a great way for children to connect with peers that share their same interests. Encourage your child to take up a sport, join a club, play a new instrument, etc. If extra cost is an issue for your family, there are always a number of free activities for children offered to your local area. Research online for children’s activities happening at a local library, church, community center or nonprofit organization.
One of the most important jobs of parenthood is to offer support. Make sure that your child knows they can always talk to you about their concerns, and that you will always be a source of comfort and encouragement in their life. Having a strong foundation of love and support at home can give your child the courage they might need to talk to a new classmate or start playing a new sport after school.
Note: If your child is experiencing loneliness, depression or child anxiety, seek professional help immediately
As much as parents hope to shield their children from any discomfort, all children will experience moments of sadness, loneliness and worry as they mature. However, if your child is suffering from anxiety or chronic depression, these are serious issues that often require attention from a medical professional. With a rising number of young adults being diagnosed with mental health disorders each year, it is vital that parents are aware of the warning signs of mental health issues as their children mature. If you are concerned that your child might be experiencing any deeper issues than shyness or growing maturity, Holiner Group offers a variety of adolescent and child psychiatrist services to the local DW area.