“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis
We all remember our childhood friends. The ones we were always excited to see and play with. The ones we went to school for in the first place. These friends shaped our younger selves and helped us develop our personalities. They can be a mirror to who we were and what we are today. They helped us understand emotions, express ourselves, build confidence, and unleash our silly side. Why must our kids have it any different?
Friendship during childhood is one of the more important parts of emotional and social development. During our online group sessions on DIY, we often see children striking a bond across the screen and it’s heartening. Yet, there can be cases when kids may not feel like interacting or bonding in any way. If you notice your child withholding themselves from social interaction with kids their age, don’t worry.
Perhaps it’s time for you to be an active catalyst without adding any pressure –
Let ‘em observe and learn
Children generally pick traits from their surroundings and maybe they haven’t found any upside to bonding. Maybe it’s time for you to meet your friends and interact with them in the presence of your kids. It will help demonstrate how comfortable you are and how much fun it is to be around others.
Strangers? Who’s that?
One of the reasons why kids are hesitant to extend companionship is because of the overprotective care provided to them in urban settings. As a result, their level of trust is usually low. The best way to overcome this is to encourage them to talk to other kids in your neighborhood or even at the supermarket. Don’t restrict children to mingle only with kids from their school or strata.
Identify interest areas
More often than not, children are looking for kids who are interested in what they are interested in. If your child enjoys building LEGO bricks, then chances are they will enjoy spending time with those kids who enjoy LEGO bricks. This common ground helps break the ice easily. So, why not identify your child’s interests and take them to activities where they might meet other kids with similar interests?
Introduce fictional characters
The power of literature is underestimated in opening up a child’s mind. A common misconception is that reading leads to isolation. That’s not at all true for a majority of children. By reading about literary characters, especially the younger ones, your child will be able to build the required confidence and curiosity to mingle with fellow kids and build a long-lasting bond as well.
Move around a bit
One reason why your child might feel ‘comfortable’ not extending their hand to other kids is that they have somehow resigned themselves to their geography. In other words, they might be so used to the location (house/neighborhood) that they have started feeling that this is it. When in reality, the world is much bigger and it’d help a lot if you moved around with your child and visited new places close by in the city you stay in. These excursions would help your child find the stability needed to nurture their future friendships.
Intervene and organize
One sure-shot way of enabling social interactions for your child is to arrange for movie screenings or dinners or even sleepovers. This will eventually help your child loosen up a bit and be more comfortable making friends.
Sharing is caring
If there is one mantra that has gone a long way in blossoming young friends, then “sharing is caring” is it. Teach them how to share. By instilling the spirit of concern for fellow humans, you show your child that humanity is a value that can’t be compromised. As a result, sharing becomes an important social skill. Kids who share stand higher chances of creating friendships than kids who don’t.
Avoid being pushy
Not all children are the same. Some are extrovert-ish by nature while others can be introverts. Either way, the idea is to enable them to build enriching relationships. Don’t push them to make friends. Instead, talk to them about why it’s essential, how it can help them, how they can grow, and most importantly, how much fun it can be.