Friends: An Essential Need for Learning
Throughout all of our lives we have people come and go, some stay longer than others and some are only there for a brief moment. It doesn’t matter how long or how brief people are in our lives they all make an impact on us and who we will become. As children, we don’t quite understand this, and for some kids it is harder to make friends than others.
As parents, we have the ability to help our kids make friends without pushing them or making them feel uncomfortable in any social setting. All of our kids are different, some are social butterflies and get along with anyone, and some are a little more shy and are not sure how to put themselves into social situations. We shouldn’t try to force our kids to be who they aren’t, but we should help them cope with situations they aren’t comfortable with as they grow older. If they are a little more shy, we need to support them and give them encouragement that will make them feel more comfortable in social situations. If your child is social, but struggles with personal space or the personal boundaries of other children, it’s important to teach them how to better interact with their peers.
Friendships and socializing might not be something your child enjoys, but is it necessary to promote greater learning? I’m definitely one to shy away from large crowds and social situations; however, I still recognize the importance of developing relationships for growth and development. So why force my child to socialize if it isn’t something they like and I don’t like as an adult? The truth is, making friends leads to a better education. It helps children develop language skills, better speech, cognitive development, and allows them to learn appropriate social skills. Children with learning challenges need friends more than ever. Developmentally, friends can help your child’s memory, conflict resolution, work ethic, and can reduce depression and anxiety in school.
If your child struggles with school or with friends, find positive experiences that make them more open to playing with other children. Because they may already have a difficult time in school and with relationships, those connections can be complicated even more if they don’t learn healthy ways to cope in those situations. Try to think of it is, I’m helping them in the here and now, but I am preparing them for the future. I’m preparing them for a career, future spouse and eventually children of their own.
Easy Friendship Building Tips
Friends and family are what make us as a person, and in turn, we help shape those people as well. Studies show that kids who don’t have friends or very few friends can suffer from emotional and mental problems later on in life. As a parent, we have the obligation to help our children make friends, especially those of our children that are a little shy when it comes to making friends.
Be a Role Model
The most immediate action you can do as a parent is to be a role model. Child behavioral expert, James Lehman, once said, “Your kids watch you for a living. It’s their job; it’s what they do. That’s why it is so important to try your best to be a good role model.” As parents, our kids are constantly watching us; the way we act, the way we treat others. How we act is how our children will become in the future. We need to do the best we can when we are around our children. Don’t just be their parents, be the superhero that they can look up to and learn from in every situation.
Encourage – Don’t Push
All of our children are different. We know that we sometimes we have to do things differently with each child, that is just the life of being a parent when dealing with different personalities and characteristics. Some of our kids will make friends super easy, while others will need a little encouragement. If we push our children to be social butterflies when it isn’t their personality, they can become even more shy and won’t want to hang out with other kids. Children with learning challenges or special needs can be awkward or afraid of other kids. Find healthy ways that work for your child to help them socialize with other children without intimidating them or making them more scared of being social. A positive social experience is very important for kids as they mature so they are prepared for social situations in the workplace. Simply encouraging our kids can help them make huge progress and gives them a chance to become more comfortable in social situations.
Get Them Involved
Our children have different interests, likes and dislikes. One way to get our kids to make friends that is a little pushier but works wonders is getting them involved. There are so many ways to get kids involved in whatever it is they like. Sign them up for a sports team, an art class or set up a play date. There are so many opportunities to get our kids involved in activities where they can make lifelong friends.
Watch and Observe
We cannot hope to help our children if we do not make the effort to watch them and see how they interact with other kids. If your child takes a certain interest in a certain playmate or someone they mention they hang out with at school, ask them more questions. Make the effort to set up a play date so they can have their friends over or arrange for them to go over to that friend’s house. It is a great way for children to feel comfortable around others and for them to not feel pressured. Also, watch what things interest them, like collecting Pokémon cards or playing with Barbie’s. Support their fads (if appropriate) even if you aren’t sure about them or aren’t into them yourself. Take Star Wars for instance. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, but my son absolutely loves it! By letting your children become involved in what their friends enjoy, it builds a connection and provides a better learning experience with new fads and ideas. It helps them develop their own opinions, thoughts and feelings, which creates a path for them to become their own person.
All of our children are so different and we need to be there for them and help them fit in the best they can. Friends help a person grow and will help our children become the best that we can be at home, at school and at work.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs