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Parenting Tips - Teaching Your Kids to Make Friends

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Is your child lonely, sad, or angry? Would you like to teach your child how to make friends? If you don't know how, I'll share the secret here.

First you need to know that research tells us the average child spends 25 hours in front of the TV each week.TV characters become their "friends" and their role models.

Speaking about role models, I remember teaching a new class of first graders. Everyone, except two little boys, was sitting tall in anticipation of story time. The two boys were rolling around slugging it out on the floor in the back of the room.

"Boys, what are you doing," I asked. "We're fighting. He's Tom and I'm Jerry. You know, in the cartoon," said the boy on top. "Don't worry," said the other. We do this all the time."

Years later, as a child and family counselor, parents brought me their sad, angry and lonely kids. These kids had one thing in common, "Nobody liked them. They had no friends." They didn't know how to make friends either. I'd ask them how they spent their time. "TV," they'd answer.

I worried about these kids.

One day, while at my in-laws, I shuffled through their bookcase and picked out a book that opened my eyes. Suddenly, I knew how to help these kids. Can you guess which book?

It was Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I knew I could bring these social skills down to a child's level. I knew I could help parents teach the ideas in this book to their kids.

But some parents said, "I don't have time, until I asked them, "Do you take your kids to games, music lessons, and doctor appointments? Do you eat dinner together? Do you put your kids to bed at night? Because if you do, you may have more time than you think."

So, Parents, do you know how to teach social skills?

Role play. Yes, you role play. You and your child practice acting out a scene with a social skill your child needs to learn. Your child becomes the youngster he wants as a friend. Then switch roles. Do this several times.

Make a chart with the social skill he's learning. At the top it might say, "My goal is to practice smiling and being upbeat with everyone I see." Give your child a star each time he tells you how he was friendly.

Each week teach your child a new social skill. Role play it at home. Tell your child, "Practice at school, in the neighborhood, and at sports practices." Add his new social skill to his chart too.

Can you see how simple it is to role play? Can you see role playing a social skill in the car, at dinner, or at bedtime? Can you imagine how happy your child will feel making friends?

Conclusion for Teaching Your Kids How to Make Friends:

Start teaching social skills today. Practice them yourself too. If you do, you'll raise a friendly child and you'll become a friendlier person too.


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