Preparing Your Kids for Friends and Back To School

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Family, School, Tips

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As the back-to-school season approaches, you’re probably filled with the excitement and anticipation of your kids return to the classroom. While buying supplies is necessary, it’s equally important to equip kids with the skills and mindset they need to navigate friendships and back to school. So let’s prepare your children for dealing with friends and back to school. 

Making friends is a life long skill. It’s important to have the skills to communicate, understand social cues, deal with conflict and find the best group of friends for your personality. 

Making Friends: A Lifelong Skill

From kindergarten playdates to college roommates, making friends is an invaluable life skill that continues adulthood. Teaching your kids how to form genuine connections leads to healthy social interactions. Encourage your kids to step out of their comfort zones, introduce themselves, and initiate conversations. Remind them that a simple smile, using names, offering compliments, and talking positivity can work wonders in building friendships.

seven teens smiling at the camera with arms around one another.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” – C. S. Lewis

Engaging in Conversations: The Magic of Connection

Instill in your child or teen the importance of active listening and clear expression. Encourage them to ask open-ended questions, share experiences, and show genuine interest in others’ lives. These skills not only help create friendships but also improve their ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds.

Unstructured School Times: Reading Social Cues

Lunch breaks, recess, and free periods offer time to use their social skills in unstructured settings. But these are also challenging times for kids who struggle to make friends. You can help them to read social cues and body language to discern when to approach someone and when to give them space. 

A great way to prepare is to role play the situation at home. Guide them in thinking of conversation starters and ways to enter into a group of peers. It’s also helpful to share times when you have used these skills to make new friendships. Dealing with making friends and back to school gets easier when you know other’s have been in the same situation. 

Friendship Traits: Choosing Quality Companions

Help your children understand that friendships are built on shared values, interests, and respect. Talk about the qualities they value in friends. Help them talk about some peers who fit their description. Encourage them to think of ways to engage these peers in activities they would both enjoy. 

Handling Conflict: Navigating the Ups and Downs

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship. Discuss with your kids some skills to handle disagreements. Use examples from their life or from books and movies. Teach them to apologize sincerely, forgive others when they’ve made mistakes and to compromise when needed. 

Learning to handle disappointment is also key to having successful friendships. Prepare your kids by reminding them that problems are normal and they can get through it. Your support and advice will be key when these disappointments happen.

three kids eating lunch at school

Parental Guidance: What You Do Matters

Parents play a major role in shaping their child’s social skills and attitudes. Here are a few ways to guide your kids on their friendship journey:

Role Modeling Friendships

Demonstrate healthy friendships in your own life. Let your children see that you value mutual respect, empathy, and effective communication in your relationships.

Refrain from Hovering

While it’s natural to be concerned about your child’s social experiences, resist the urge to micromanage. Allow them the space to develop their social skills and navigate friendships independently.

Expect Mistakes

Encourage conversations where your child or teen feels comfortable sharing their experiences, both positive and challenging. Remind them that making mistakes is a part of growth and learning.

For some concrete ways to build these skills in your child, check out our guide “How To Make And Keep Friends” 

During this back to school season, spend some time helping your child prepare with these friendship skills. They’ll start the year with confidence and know that you’re there to help when the going gets tough. 

Preparing Your Kids for Friends and Back To School

By Lisa Reichelt, M. Ed., Parent Coach

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