Helping your child make friends

Parents want their kids to have friends! But learning how to make friends does not come naturally to young children, who are not always known for their social skills. Parents and caregivers can help children build friendships. Here are some tips:

Arrange playdates
See if preschool classmates or family friends are willing to have playdates. They’ll be more likely to share toys and talk (or babble) with other children that they’re familiar with! If possible, try to arrange playdates with kids who share your child’s interests, whether it’s toy cars and Play-Doh or painting and lightsabers.

Get involved
Since young children don’t have enough social experience to run a playdate themselves, you might need to join in! You and another adult can chat and play with toys to show the little ones how to share and be friendly. Your kids will benefit from you modeling good playdate behavior and you’ll be in prime position to break up any disagreements over toys. Getting involved can also help shy children feel more comfortable, too.

Go with the flow
Remember that your child doesn’t need to be the most popular to be happy! Quality is definitely more important than quantity in your child’s relationships. Also, be patient with your child’s development of social skills. It might take some time to move from parallel play to interacting directly with others. Letting your child ease into their interactions with others can be the difference between a calm playdate and one that causes stress—your own stress included.

Talk it out
Helping your child develop communication skills will make it easier for them to talk to other children. By practicing communication of all types, you can help your child learn to express themselves and interact with others. These communication skills will come in handy when they meet other children and start to create friendships.

Forming friendships with others can be challenging for young children! But with your guidance, children can successfully make positive friendships.

If you’d like to talk to one of our early childhood experts about your child, call/text our Birth to Five Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5437) or visit birthtofivehelpline.org today!

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.