“It breaks my heart to see my 9-year-old son playing by himself all the time,” says a concerned parent. “Teaching kids how to make friends is essential for their social and emotional development, and it’s especially important for my son who doesn’t seem to have any close friends. He may have a few days with a friend, but his friendships never seem to last long. Is there anything I can do to help him establish and maintain meaningful friendships?”
Most kids appear to make friends fairly easily. When they don’t, it could be because other kids dislike their behavior. They may be overbearing, disruptive, or unwilling to share. Or they may always prefer to have their own way. Some children struggle because they are shy. A learning disability may be the source of the problem for some.
According to Mayo Clinic researchers, parents can teach and reinforce basic friendship rules. Remind your son that everyone enjoys receiving compliments. Teach him how to compliment others. Ascertain that he understands the significance of sharing. When playing with other kids, keep an eye on what’s going on to see if he needs friendship advice from you.
Parents should also provide their children with numerous opportunities to make new friends. This summer, get your son involved in activities with other kids who share his interests, such as sports, music, and stamp collecting. Participate in family outings with friends who have kids his age.
If your son continues to struggle with making and keeping friends, you may want to seek additional assistance from a counselor. Remember that some children are content with just one or two friends.
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