Helping children develop strong relationships can help create the foundation for future
relationships. Here are a few strategies that will help children build successful
● Establish play days for your child and make a note of where they may need help
when it comes to interacting. Are they picking up social cues? Are they being a
good host? Is their behavior negatively affecting their interactions?
Become their coach
● Enrol your child in an activity where they can meet other kids who share their
● Establish the Rule of Three. They are not allowed to quite an activity until they
have tried it at least three times.
● Do not allow your children to become couch potatoes. Your family expectation is
that they are going to be involved in extracurricular activities.
● Help children assess whether there may be something they are doing that deters
● Teach your child how to introduce themselves. At Kids 4 Kids I teach children
how to properly introduce themselves. It is amazing how many children do not
know this basic format. Children who know how to introduce themselves leave a
powerful impression on the person they’re with.
TEACH YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE QUALITIES THAT MAKE GREAT FRIEND
Don’t assume your child knows what makes up a great relationship. Teach them.
● Being a great host
● Remembering important dates
● Non judgemental
● Loves you for you
Teach your about looking for clues which would help them get a conversation
going. Let’s say your child wants to initiate a conversation with someone who is
wearing a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey jersey. Your child could strike up the conversation about hockey. Look for conversation starter clues.
Look for conversation starter clues.
Most children are afraid of being rejected. Help them realize that although
some kids may not want to be their friend, the risk of hearing “no” is not close to
the feeling of getting the “yes” and finding a best friend. It’s worth the risk.
When I was young I was a very shy boy. It was very difficult for me to initiate a
friendship. What helped me was having a parent who made me join clubs like Cub
Scouts and sports like hockey and soccer. These opportunities gave me the chance to
meet other kids who had similar interests. See kids every week eventually led me to
make new friends. The more success I had in making friends the more confident I
became in initiating conversations. If it was up to me, I would not have taken the risk of
joining clubs and going to camp. Sometimes kids need a little encouragement to lead
them to their success.
Teach children that friendship is a two-way street. If your child is making all
the effort, it is not a friendship relationship as a relationship requires the effort of two
or more people.
Encourage their interests as this will lead to clubs with potential friends and a way of
improving self-esteem. Children love magic. So do I. My self-esteem and confidence
improved dramatically after doing a magic show for my grade 7 class. Encourage your
child’s interests and look for other children who have the same interest and make the
BECOME AN EMOTION COACH: Help your child regulate and understand their
emotional responses. Studies show that parents who help their child problem solve their
child’s emotional reaction to an event have children who are able to regulate their
behavior. This is important when your child is trying to make friends and build a
reputation that attracts friendship.
Parents who trivialize their child’s behavior i.e. “You are being silly,” “Stop
misbehaving,” have children who have difficulty acquiring the skills to regulate their
PRACTISE AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING (not authoritarian) PARENTING
Studies of both Western and Chinese children report that kids are more likely to be rejected by
their peers when their parents practice authoritarian parenting an approach characterized by
low levels of warmth and high levels of control. Authoritarian parents discourage thoughtfully
discussion and attempt to control behavior through punishment. Kids raised this way are less
likely to develop an internalized sense of right and wrong. And kids subjected to harsh
punishments tend to show more hostility and aggression (Xuet al 2009; Chen and Rubin 1994).
Look for examples in daily life of social situations that will teach empathy.
Helping children understand how to sympathize and understand another person’s point of view.
Also, help them see there may be more to the story than what you see. STORY: There was a young man who came to school every day in tears. He was eventually called a crybaby by the
boys in his class. The students eventually found out that the boy who was always in tears was
dealing with a mom who had cancer. When they found out this part of the story they were able
to be more empathetic. There is always more to a person’s story than what you see.
HELP KIDS READ FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
Play the FACEOFF game. Sit in the food court of
the nearest mall and try to guess how the people you see are feeling. Point out their facial
expressions and how their body language dictates how they feel. You can also use the events
your child goes through to highlight how facial expression and body language shows how a person feels. Parent: “I can tell by the expression on your face and how you are slouching in
the chair that you have had a bad day.”
WATCH WHO YOUR CHILD ARE FRIENDS WITH
Studies have shown that children whose peers are more aggression tend to be more aggressive
themselves. Children will imitate the behaviors of their peer groups. As a parent, monitor who
your child decides to befriend.
STORY: My friend Mark White was an athlete, well mannered young man until the age of 16.
He started hanging around an older group of boys who loved to party. They also loved drinking
and smoking pot. Over a 6 month period, Mark changed. His appearance became untidy, he
became apathetic and no longer was interested in sports. The influence of his peers had a
significant, negative impact on Mark’s life.
LET KIDS WORK OUT THINGS ON THEIR OWN
In my line of work, I see children who are as old as 14 years of age, have their parents run to
the rescue and solve problems they are quite capable of solving themselves. There are events
that happen that parents should intervene in. However, there are times, when children should
be encouraged to come up with the solutions themselves.
STORY: In Thornhill here was a parent meeting about an upcoming school ski trip. Parents were
asking questions like who will make sure my child wears his hat and mitts if it’s really cold
outside? Who will ensure my child is eating enough at meal times? These students were in
grade 8. This is an example of parents intervening when they shouldn’t. If you are fourteen
years old and don’t learn from the consequence associated with not wearing the proper clothing
in the winter then there is a problem.
YOU ARE THEIR FIRST TEACHER
You are your child’s first teacher. You have a great influence on how your child feels about
themselves and how they interact with others. Take the time to pay attention to them, offer them
support and look for teachable moments that you can use to teach them about the value of
themselves and how to develop successful positive relationships.
The struggles you go through now with your children can be the opportunities that will help
develop them into successful adults who are passionate about life, who develop into leaders
who add value to others and teach others from the lessons they have learned on the way
Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Google+Pin on Pinterest