Here are some easy tips to consider:
Lead by Example
Children are always watching their parents, so as adults we should have friends over do fun things with them, so our children can learn by example. Hosting a family game night with another family provides a non-threatening opportunity for children to see a how a whole family interacts with another family and how much fun it can be.
You also should seek out books about friendships that you can read together, and discuss the neat things friends do together and for each other. The same suggestions apply to watching children’s television shows or movies together.
If children see friendships all around them, hopefully they will see how much fun it can be to have friends and how to proceed with making new friends.
Host Play Dates
Don’t underestimate the power of hosting regular play dates for your children to get to know other children better. For each play date, only have a single classmate or child from your neighborhood over. Having the play date last less than two hours will help prevent the children from getting bored or worn out.
Plan ahead with your children and think of some activities that they can do while hosting the play dates. Talk with your children to find out what they might have in common with the children who are coming over: be it sports, Pokémon or the latest video game. Then stay involved in each play date you host by helping get the activities started, serving a snack to the children or answering questions to let them know you are available if they need you. Be careful not to be overbearing or controlling.
After each play date, talk to your children about it and find out what they liked, what was difficult for them and what they would do differently for the next play date.
The key is to create a safe space for them to work on building friendships. Be patient and give it plenty of time.
Remember that making friends is an important part of developing children’s socialization skills. Even though it might be more difficult for some children than others, making friends is a very critical life skill. If you continue to see your children struggle at making friendships, the next step should be to seek professional help.