How can I help my child make friends or re-establish friendships?

Friendships are a really important part of children’s lives. They’re crucial for mental, physical and emotional health. 

It’s normal for children to feel nervous or have anxious feelings about going back to school or making new friends. Remember that your child’s friends and classmates are probably having the same thoughts and feelings.  

Those feelings might be worse this year because of the school closures. Because of lockdown and rules about meeting people, it has been hard for children to keep up with existing friends or make new ones.

You can help by talking to them about friendships and organising activities where they can meet other children.

Three small children sit next to each other on a hill. They are facing away from us, and are wearing clothes with floral patterns.

Talking to your child about friendships

  • Listen to their worries in an understanding and non-judgemental way. 
  • Don’t dismiss their concerns. Instead, try to validate their emotions. 
  • Ask questions about their day without emphasising certain parts. For example, instead of “Did you make any new friends, today?”, you could ask “Who was in your team during P.E.?” 
  • Stay positive. Your child will soon get used to being back at school. This will start increase their confidence and their natural ability to make friends. 

    Helping your child to socialise

    While they are young, your child will need your help to spend time with other children outside of school or nursery. Even when rules about socialising are changing, there are lots of ways you can support them to make friends.

    • Organise online parties to give them more face time – you can use Zoom or other free platforms. 
    • Contact any friends they have made at school and hold online quiz nights. The children could take it in turns to set a theme. 
    • Try to spend quality time playing with your child – you can help meet their need for social interaction. 
    • Organise a pen-pal for your child. This can improve their reading and writing skills, too! 
    • Spend time outdoors in a park where your child can observe other children playing. Once they feel more confident, they might even try out their friend-making skills.
    • Talk to them about what hobbies they’d like to spend time doing, or sports they like playing. Look for clubs and activities they could join in your area.
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