Tuesday, July 24, 2012

helping my child make friends

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You may have read my post last month titled On How to Make Friends.  I wrote about my struggle in how to help my 3.5 yr old son make friends.  It was hard for me to figure out how to help him due to my own social awkwardness. 

Bear is outgoing and proficient in conversations with adults.  I suppose this comes from living in a house full of "big people".  He doesn't get that much of an opportunity to interact with other kiddos.  So in group settings, he becomes extremely introverted and is left out of activities because of this.

I got an overwhelmingly caring response to my On How to Make Friends post from so many people.  It brought me to tears that so many people, both friends and strangers wanted to help me help my son.  So I followed some of their suggestions and came up with a few solutions of my own.  Here are the ones that seem to be working so far...

I stepped out of my comfort zone.
We all know how much our children pick up from us.  Once I was reminded of this, I had to force myself to do something that I was {and still am} uncomfortable with... relating to other moms.  How could I expect Bear to do it if I myself didn't?  So, during Vacation Bible School, I reached out to the other parents that were in Bear's class.  Here's how I did it...

I made playdate "business" cards.
I'll tell you several of the moms looked at me weird when I handed them these. I told them that our kids seemed to get along well and that we'd love to get together sometime. Of all of them, only 2 gave me their information as well. But I wasn't discouraged because I knew that putting myself {and Bear} out there like that was a big step.  Here's what they looked like:

I stopped using the words afraid and nervous.
Before going into a group situation like storytime or a playgroup, I stopped telling Bear "You don't have to be afraid or nervous.  I'll be right there."  I think that by previously using these phrases, I was telling him that there was something to be apprehensive about.  Instead, I started talking up the situation by saying things like, "I'm so excited about going to this storytime!  I wonder what new friends we'll meet?"

I joined a playgroup. 
I heard about a park playdate from a mom that I knew through our church.  From there, we joined 3 more playgroups in our area who do all types of fun things.  One of the groups is smaller and has more active members, so Bear will be able to be around the same children consistently.  Hopefully this will help him to forge some friendships.

So far, things are going better.  He's responding more to other children and gaining confidence.  It will take time, but I have full faith that things will even out.  I'm feeling better about the situation and I think that my lessened anxiety may have a small part in it as well. 

I'd love to know what types of things you do/have done to help your children make friends!

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