Friendships are so important for children; friends not only offer a playmate, but they can become someone to help them solve problems, a trusted ally who will listen to their fears, and try out new ideas with them. Our sponsor, Gymboree wants to know about the importance of friendship!
Gymboree has a new line of clothing, Dinotrux that my kids are loving (you’ll see them wearing them in the photos below), and they have now found the show and I couldn’t be happier to let them watch it during their screen time (read how I learned to set out screen time rules).
Dinotrux is DreamWorks Animation’s first all-new original series that combines dinosaurs and trucks! It’s funny but also gives a valuable message about cooperation and friendship that my kids may need to learn a little more about (don’t they all at this age?).
Lorien is a regular contributor here at hands on : as we grow and is going to share her expertise on making friends. She has four kids ranging from 2 to 12 and has recently moved basically across the country (not quite, but a few states away), the kids had to leave friends behind and have had the experience of learning how to make new friends from scratch.
Making friends is so hard! I find it hard myself as an adult. I’m taking Lorien’s tips to heart. Because… (here’s Lorien)
We all want our kids to have friends!
One of the greatest joys in life is watching my kids develop deep and lasting friendships.
But the road to those friendships is not always smooth. My kids have been lucky; we lived in the same small city for most of their lives and they had grown up being friends with my friend’s children. Sure they made friends outside of those circles as well, but I never had to think much about helping them make friends.
Then we moved to another state!
We kept in touch with our friends back home (in this era of social media and video calls it was easy to do), however, I knew that my kids needed to make new friends too!
I have spent the last year thinking about friendship and helping my kids make new friends.
Two parts to helping kids make friends
All of which led me to realize that there are really two parts to helping kids make friends: giving them the social tools to play well with others and enter a group of kids who are playing, and creating opportunities to make friends.
To help your kids learn the social skills they need to make and keep friends try these strategies listed by age:
Introduce Prosocial Skills Toddlers and Preschoolers
Introduce prosocial skills such as sharing and turn taking. This doesn’t mean you have to immediately force your child to give up a toy just because someone else wants it, but you can help them understand that others want to play too.
Narrate what’s happening when another child wants a turn with an item.
“I see that Sara wants to play cars too. Can you choose a car to share with her?”
“Bobby wants to have a turn on the rocking horse can he use it when you are finished?”
Model empathy. Toddlers and preschoolers are not naturally empathetic, but they benefit from and learn empathy when it is modeled by caregivers.
Set up opportunities for parallel play such as duplicate tools in a sandbox, creating an opportunity to play side by side without the stress of collaborating.
Play with your child and their friends, guiding the play and helping to resolve conflicts as they arise.
Find opportunities for your child to play with kids who are slightly older and who have more well-developed skills for playing together.
Help your child learn to introduce themselves and ask “Can I play too?”.
Continue to Help 4-6 Year Olds Develop Prosocial Skills
Children at this stage may seem to have these skills one moment and completely lack them the next. Just keep gently reminding them, modeling the skills yourself when possible.
Introduce and model conflict resolution. Be wary of always solving their problems for them, instead offer possible solutions and let them choose what they would like to try. Then help put their solutions into action.
Help your child and their friends to come up with a plan for sharing toys and materials. Some examples might be each child plays with an item for a set amount of time and when the timer goes off they trade. Singing a particular song such as the ABC’s as a means for taking turns on the swing.
Teach some helpful scripts such as:
“I want to play too, can we find a way share?”
“Can I use that when you are finished?”
“Can we trade?”
Teach your child set boundaries with others. It is reasonable to want others not to hurt you.
Teach them to be specific. It is usually more successful to say “don’t push me” than simply yelling “STOP!”.
Show them how to join a group of children by asking what they are playing and if they can play too. Occasionally help them come up with prompts for entering another child’s play, for instance if a group of kids are playing astronauts suggest that your child ask if they can be an alien or mission control as a means of joining the game.
Celebrate Older Kids Interests and Friendships
Help your child celebrate their interests whether it’s dolls, trucks, fairies or dinosaurs, we all gravitate towards friends who share our interests.
Help them broaden their interests; you never know what you might like or who you might meet trying out something new!
Keep offering opportunities for them to meet new people.
When you see a friendship blossoming support it but don’t force it. Older children need to have ownership over their friendships.
Don’t meddle in their friendships (unless you suspect that there is something harmful going on). Keep asking questions and demonstrate your interest but don’t offer advice unless they ask.
You don’t have to be friends with the parent’s of your children’s friends, it’s great when it works out that way, but it’s okay to just be acquaintances.
You can support your children’s friendships by creating shared experiences; have their friends over for dinner, make a craft or play games.
6 Great Ways to Meet New Friends
Take advantage of public spaces such as parks, pools, and libraries.
If you have young children, join a playgroup.
Create or join a group of local parents on social media to create group outings such as trips to the zoo, playdates at the park, or movies at the theater.
Have your child participate in a sport, it doesn’t even have to be a team sport like soccer or baseball, martial arts and gymnastics work just as well for meeting friends.
Help your child join a club, whether it’s chess, sewing, robotics, or scouts; they will be bound to meet other like-minded individuals.
Go to community events where you can meet other families like Gymboree’s in store event, September, 12th 2015 where they will be celebrating their new line of clothing featuring characters from DreamWorks new animated series Dinotrux!
Get a sneak-peek at Dinotrux and create your own Dinotrux world using DreamWorks COLOR app. You’ll also have a chance to enter to win a Dinotrux shopping spree at Gymboree.
RSVP now to join in the excitement!
Enter to win a $75 gift card to Gymboree!
Before you head off with your kids to make new friends, enter to win a $75 gift card to Gymboree so you can grab some of these new Dinotrux shirts the kids are wearing (or anything else at the store)!
Enter to win by answering the following in the comments:
Tell us your favorite way to make new friends!
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the question above.
2. Tweet about this giveaway by answering the question above; include the following term (exactly) in your tweet: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/31/2015 – 9/12/2015 and ends at midnight CST. Ends just in time for the Gymboree in-store event! RSVP here.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.