Are you worried about your teen or child’s friendships? When you have a child who’s anxious you watch them struggle making friends. They don’t seem to know how to relate to their peers or how to cooperate at play. Maybe your child prefers to stay home and avoids social settings. You know it’s healthy to have friends, but how can you help?
Parents can help kids make friends. One way is to provide opportunities for kids to be together and make those opportunities safe for your anxious child.
When I was growing up, I remember being really excited when my parents were hosting their monthly Card Club. Mom baked special treats and always made extra for us. The house was cleaned from top to bottom.
Mom and Dad had 3 couples who came over to play cards for the night. They usually played Bridge. It was so much fun to listen to adults chatter, laugh and have a great time together. Mom and Dad’s friends supported one another and enjoyed being together.
The beauty of the monthly Card Club was that it gave structure and consistency to their friendship. Meeting each month meant they could depend on sharing their lives together.
Your kids need this kind of structure and consistency for their friendships. Many of them get the consistency of sports teams, extra curricular activities, or faith communities. But what happens if your child doesn’t participate in any of these? What if your child struggles to make friends even in these groups? That’s where you can help.
Parent As Role Model
Do you belong to a Book Club? If so, I bet you meet every 4-6 weeks to discuss the book, but mostly you enjoy your time together visiting, laughing, crying and sharing your life. Isn’t this the type of friendship relationships you’d like for your child?
You can provide your child with the opportunity to have consistent interaction with their peers by creating a monthly (or every 6 weeks) parent and child “club.” Your club can be based on any activity your child enjoys.
In this article, I’ll share five ideas that work well for an ongoing club, but you may have some other ideas that will work as well.
Parent-Child Book Club
A Parent/Child Book Club can be lots of fun for parent and kids. My daughter and I were part of one when she was in 4th grade. We met monthly and whoever was hosting that month was in charge of the activity. We talked about the book and had snacks, but also did a fun, book related activity.
Gathering every month allowed the girls and the moms to get to know each other better. The moms were modeling friendship and the girls were practicing all the social skills they needed for learning to get along with peers
Here’s a link to get your creativity going.
Parent-Child Video Gaming Club
A Club where parents and kids spend the night playing video games may sound crazy, but it’s important to meet your kids where they’re at. If your kids love video games, then find a way to join the fun.
You and your child can plan for a night with 2-3 other kids and their parents. Maybe you set up a couple of game systems and take turns. You might even want to set up a tournament board. There are lots of ways to make this a fun night. Don’t forget about the snacks!
Here’s a link to help you with planning.
Parent-Child Great British Bake Off Club
Does your child like to cook? I’m sure they like to eat! So maybe you could convince them to join you in creating this club. Each month you’d meet at a different home and have a cooking contest. The Great British Bake Off Show is just the inspiration for this club. You’re free to make the cooking as challenging or as easy as you’d like.
Cooking together is a great way to bond. It also builds lots of memories. So you’ll want to be sure you take lots of photos of this monthly club.
Here’s a link to get you started.
Parent-Child Board Game Club
Board games are making a comeback and I think it’s great. These games are fun and they give you time to work on your friendships. Board games typically move slower than video games, so participants have time to talk.
There’s a lot a variety in board games. You can find board games that will appeal to every age and to everyone’s talents. For your Club find a few games everyone likes and take turns playing them. Or each month the host picks a game and everyone plays. Getting along with others is a skill all kids need to practice.
Here’s a link with some ideas for a great night.
Parent/Child Cookies and Canvas Club
(similar to Wine and Paint- without the wine)
If you’ve ever attended a Wine and Paint event you know how fun it is to visit while working on something creative. There’s lots of talking, laughing and you go home with a work of art. Your club doesn’t have to always include painting. Each month the hosts can decide what art or craft you’re going to complete.
The night is complete with some cookies and beverages. Your kids have time to visit with their peers and practice friendships. Your creative child will love this type of club.
Here’s a link to some great art tutorials.
Hopefully reading this got your creativity going. Writing this article caused me to think of other clubs you could create with your kids. Who know, maybe you’ll start with a Book Club and end up having a Video Gaming Club.
Just start thinking of things you like to do and you’ll come up with lots of ideas. Here’s a few I thought of: Lego Masters Club, Minute to Win It Club, Coin Collecting Club, Chess Club
It’s all about making connections with your kids and helping them make friendships with their peers. Good luck and have fun!
Five Ways To Foster Friendships
By Lisa Reichelt, M.Ed., Parent Coach