As a parent, you always want to shield your child from pain. Whether that pain is physical or emotional, the response is the same. So when you have a child not making friends at school your first reaction is to solve the problem and take the pain away.
Unfortunately, the solution is rarely that simple So how can you help them through this?
What should you do about a child not making friends at school?
For kids making friends is a skill they must learn. A lack of friends rarely has anything to do with their personality. There are plenty of kids that are not the most popular at school, yet they still have friends.
Like so many things for kids making friends is something that they have to try for the first time. Like potty training or riding a bike, kids do not know how to instinctively do this. They must learn that skill.
A child not making friends at school is no different. This may come very easily to your child or it may be a struggle. If it is easy it is because they have mastered the skill without much help. If you have kids that have not, there are steps you can take as a parent.
Like the other things they have learned in their lives, you can guide them. You CAN teach them the skills to make friends and keep them. This is not a course in you saying “I made friends when I was a kid, why can’t you?”
There are simple and easy steps you can take to TEACH your kids how to make friends.
The how and why of a child not making friends at school
By now you are most likely thinking that solving a child not making friends at school is going to be tough. You are not at school with them so how can you know how to help. You do not know what other kids say about them. You realize that how kids deal with things is far different than how you do as an adult.
That is all true, yet what you can do will surprise you. This is going to take a bit of detective work on your part. I am not suggesting you interrogate your kids. It will take a little digging and a little prodding.
Once you have started, you can begin to see the WHY of the problem. Then we can move on to the HOW to change the situation of a child not making friends at school for the better.
These tips are quite simple yet effective. Do not let your kids spend another day with no friends at school. Let’s dive into a plan to turn that around for them.
Why kids can struggle with making friends at school
When trying to teach a child not making friends at school how to actually make friends at school, there are several things then need to learn. Chief among them are things like:
- How to strike up a conversation and maintain it
- Being able to read the social cues of their peers
- Keeping a positive attitude
- Being able to listen and understand what others are saying
So if your kids already have those skills they are on their way. You may find that kids learn this as they go on their own. Like anything in life, they will improve with practice. So what may have been a challenge when they are young may get easier as they get older.
One common challenge for a child not making friends at school is nervousness or fear. We all hate embarrassment or looking bad. This fear can be exponentially worse for kids. Suppose your child cannot or will not strike up a conversation with someone they do not know. It stands to reason then that the prospect of making new friends is small.
I’ll use my kids as an example. When we go to a park, my oldest will charge headlong into a group of kids. He is always looking to join or lead a group of kids that are complete strangers.
My youngest will often stay in the periphery. He will find some kids to play with, but it will be one or two kids. It will usually take a little longer for him. It is not that he is shy, that is how he likes to do it.
Trying to understand the social rules and norms
Kids tend to want to get their point across. They want to do that right now! Have you ever noticed as a parent a lack of patience on your child’s part? Of course you have.
That is fine because you are an adult and you know your kids. It becomes an issue when your kids are meeting new kids for the first time. If they plow through a conversation, other kids may tune them out and walk away.
Even as adults we can struggle with social norms. Think about going on a first date. Think about some of the awkward moments that can occur. This is the same dynamic that occurs when kids meet for the first time.
Where you can help as a parent of a child not making friends at school is in the conversations you have with your kids. Make them aware that when two people are speaking it is a dialogue and not a monologue. Kids are not being rude, they may not understand this concept yet.
Are your kids being excluded?
A child not making friends at school being excluded from others at school could be the result of many reasons. It may be the case that they have not met the right people yet. A friendship, especially between two kids, comes from them having things in common. Because they are in the same class does not mean they have anything else in common.
If the perception is that your child is different in some way, this can lead to exclusion. If that happens it can mean other kids will tend to steer clear of them. We all can remember from our time at school, how that sort of thing can occur.
If a child not making friends at school is a result of exclusion because of how they look, how they act, or how they interact with other kids, the result is the same. This problem can grow worse and may even lead to kids getting labels. Worse still is them becoming the victim of bullying.
The Nuts and Bolts of How to Help a Child Not Making Friends at School
Kids want to have friends at school. This will make for a better school day experience for them. It will help them to learn not only in the classroom but valuable life skills.
If you have a child not making friends at school, tell them that a new approach might help. They make hear that news with enthusiasm. Be mindful that kids do not like embarrassment. Ease into this conversation with them. If they seem hesitant, give it a break for a while before coming back to it.
As you have these conversations with a child not making friends at school, try to get an idea of exactly where they are struggling. If the problem is starting a conversation, help them to build conversation skills.
If the problem is not being able to pick up on social cues, work with them on that. If it seems that they are awkward around others, talk to them about personal space.
Handle all these issues in the same way. You are the adult and you have been through this. Do some simple role-playing with them. They may be shy and embarrassed about doing this, so ease into it.
Go slowly at first but be diligent. Only a few signs of progress does not mean you should give up. This is a learned skill and that means a child not making friends at school may take quite a bit of time to learn that skill.
Use your resources
Talk to your child’s teacher. See what their take on the situation is. They deal with all the kids in your child’s class every day. They see the formation of groups and clicks. They have a great idea of how to help your child make friends.
See if your school offers any programs that may help a child not making friends at school. Things like Lunch Buddy systems and lunch groups can be a big help. You already know what your kid’s interests are. Why not try to find groups outside of school that they can be a part of. These groups are sure to include kids that have similar interests to them. This smooths the path of building new friendships for your kids.
Nowadays kids can’t even find online friends. Of course, this can be beneficial, but it is something that you as a parent need to watch.
This can be learned
Don’t let the pain of a child not making friends at school continue. They are easy and simple steps you can take to remedy the situation.
The only requirement on your part is listening, asking simple questions, and empathizing with your kids. We have all been little kids before, and we know the challenges they face. Put yourself in their shoes. Use the wisdom of your life experience, and help them to start making friends today.