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Building Friendships in School

School can be a great place for kids to build lifelong friendships; however, for some kids it can also be a place where they feel very alone.  Cliques form early, kids make fun of each other, teasing and bullying occur daily.  School can be cruel.  It’s sad, but true.  If you have a child who is shy or struggles with social interactions it can be hard to build friendships.  The last thing a parent wants to find out is that their child is eating lunch alone and feels that no one likes them.  Parents cannot make friends for their kids; however, they can give them the tools to help them to build friendships. 

Some children, especially elementary aged kids, need help learning about social skills such as: empathy, sharing, problem solving, negotiating, and communication.  Many children that may have developmental delays or Autistic Spectrum disorders can also benefit from learning social skills. 

Parents can help their child facilitate friendships by doing things like hosting play dates with other kids from school or the neighborhood.  Allow the kids to have unstructured play time together to help develop their social skills.  Sometimes if a child gets to know another child through their parents, they will feel more comfortable pursuing a friendship. 

-Take your child on errands with you.  The more they are exposed to different kinds of people, the better they will learn to interact.
-Involve your child in sports.  Playing on a team with other kids can help your child develop teamwork skills and help them make friends.
-Be supportive of your child and listen to them.  Let your child know that some friends come and go and that developing friendships is a lifelong process.
-You can also show your child how to make good friends, by working to make good friends yourself.
-Teach your child to say hello and goodbye and to ask people their names.  Some children do not feel comfortable getting to know other kids because they have problems remembering their names.
-Encourage them to have eye contact with other people and to smile if someone compliments them and say thank you. 

According to Boys Town Pediatrics, there are several ways you can help your child to feel good about themselves:

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