Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to help your child make friends

Salam parents,

This article from babycenter tells us how to help our child make friend through playdates (or playgroup). Some of our kids are shy and afraid of unfamiliar faces. Thus playdates offer a shy child a starting block for a social life.  

"If you promote a positive experience, your child is more likely to want to play again," says Dale Walker, a professor of child development at the University of Kansas.

Now here's what to do:

Keep playdates small. 

You can invite a few friends with their kids to your house. I'd be better if the kids are your kids friends' and they should be around your child's age.

Keep playdates short.

Young kids attention span are short, between one and two hours. Kids might be overstimulated or burnt out if the period is longer.

Plan ahead. 

"Maximize the positive interaction by making sure there are plenty of materials, so children have enough to play with and don't necessarily have to share right off," Walker says.

Get involved.

You can guide them and make them feel more at ease when making new friends and playing.  However, try not to dominate or fill in for your child; the idea is to help break the ice without taking control.

Get a schedule, then get going.

Try to arrange regular playdates with the same kids on a weekly basis to get familiarity.

Be a playdate yourself.

Being a regular playdates with allows you to stimulate interaction while getting to know his playing style. "You can get a sense of where your child struggles and when it is easy for him," says Alison Ehara-Brown, a licensed clinical social worker who works with children and families in Berkeley, Calif.

See how others do it.

Watching videos or reading books about friends with your child is another low-key way to reinforce the positives of socializing.

Have your own friends over.

Since young children pay close attention to what grown-ups do and often imitate their behavior, model for your child by having your friends over, especially in ways that include the younger generation. Have a double playdate with a friend who has children.

Try not to expect too much. 

"Parents should never push very young children to play together; they have to be able to choose some things for themselves," Walker says. "There's a fine line there. You don't want to really push friendship, but you can certainly set the stage for it."

Get help if you sense a real problem.

In most cases, shyness or difficulty making friends in early childhood is normal. But a few red flags could indicate that something else is going on. If your child rarely holds eye contact, is unusually withdrawn, throws tantrums or cries whenever other children are around, or seems terrified of going to preschool or the playground, talk to your pediatrician.

Come join us in ALIMKids Melaka and you can help your child make friends too.


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