The ability to make friends doesn’t come naturally to everyone, more so for some school-going students who may struggle to make a connection with their peers in school. Despite being social creatures, social skills are learnt and tend to get better with time and practice.
To boot, friendships can be tricky – some are formed out of survival, some out of convenience, while the rest may be based on mutual connection and affection. Despite that, friendships play a major role in the mental and personal health of students, making it important for parents and teachers to pay attention too.
So how can parents and teachers help students who struggle to make friends in school? Here are some suggestions:
As one of the first few people students learn their social skills from, parents can really help children improve their social skills. For instance, Cleveland Clinic notes that parents can help their kids by:
Observing how they socialise
This includes how he/she socialises in school versus at home, and questioning the difference in the behaviour.
Modelling positive social behaviour
Every interaction with a friend, neighbour or family member serves as an opportunity for parents to teach their child how to socialise with others in different social situations.
Giving your child a head start
This includes letting your child acclimatise to their new environment before more people show up. For example, you may want to let your child take some solo tennis lessons prior to joining a class to build up his or her confidence.
Students spend a significant amount of time in school, which means teachers can use this opportunity to help students build their social skills. The Conversation notes that teachers can do this by:
Providing more opportunities for students to interact
Students tend to break into cliques but by having more activities or opportunities for students to play and work together, they can slowly forge new friendships and be exposed to working alongside different classmates.
Teaching students interpersonal skills
This can be done by teaching students how to express their opinions in constructive ways, as well as how to respect difference and teaching them all about empathy.
Creating a safe space
So much is focused on academics, but allocating time for students to discuss friendship issues can do wonders in helping them make new friends and learn the perspective of other students.