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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 a

good host? Is their behaviour 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 quit an activity until they

have tried it at least three times.

● Do not allow your children to become couch potatoes. Your family’s 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

a friendship.

● 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.


Don’t assume your child knows what makes up a great relationship. Teach them.

● Trustworthy

● Compromise

● Listening

● Fairness

● Being a great host

● Inclusion

● Remembering important dates

● Non-judgemental

● Acceptance

● Respect

● Forgiveness

● Support

● Thoughtful

● 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 a 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, and 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 tough 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 involved in initiating conversations. If it were 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 interests and make the


BECOME AN EMOTION COACH: Help your child regulate and understand their

emotional responses. Studies show that parents who help their children problem-solve their

child’s emotional reaction to an event have children who can regulate their

behaviour. This is important when your child is trying to make friends and build a

the reputation that attracts friendship.

Parents who trivialize their child’s behaviour, i.e. “You are being silly,” “Stop

misbehaving,” have children who have difficulty acquiring the skills to regulate their



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 behaviour through punishment. Kids raised this way are less.

likely to develop an internalized sense of right and wrong. And kids are subjected to harsh.

punishments tend to show hostility and aggression (Xuet al 2009; Chen and Rubin 1994).


Look for examples of social situations in daily life 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 you see. STORY: A young man 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.


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 expressions and body language show 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.”


Studies have shown that children whose peers are more aggressive tend to be more aggressive.

themselves. Children will imitate the behaviours of their peer groups. As a parent, monitor who

your child decides to befriend.

STORY: My friend Mark White was an athlete, a mannered young man until 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 interested in sports. The influence of his peers had a

significant, negative impact on Mark’s life.


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 there 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 consequences associated with not wearing the proper clothing

in the winter then there is a problem.


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

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