Starting school can be a tough time in a child’s life, and it can be even more difficult if making friends doesn’t come naturally to your child. We are social animals – making and maintaining good friendships is essential for our self-esteem, happiness and even our physical wellbeing. However, some children simply aren’t destined to be the most popular characters on the playground. At the same time it can hurt to see your son or daughter being excluded by their peers on the playground. If your child only has a handful of friends, there’s probably not too much to worry about, but if they struggle to make any bonds at all this may be symptomatic of another problem in their life.
How Are You Influencing Your Child’s Social Life?
Children tend to pick up habits from their parents without them even noticing. You may be concerned about your child’s difficulty making friends, but have you considered what your relationship with your peers is like? If a child’s parents don’t make the effort to meet up with acquaintances, colleagues or neighbours and have an engaging social life then the child might not see the benefit of having a solid group of friends and therefore will be more likely to have trouble making solid connections at school. Interestingly, a recent study conducted by Voucherbox showed that 40% of UK parents admitted to not liking their child’s choice of friends. 30% of parents surveyed also said they had a problem with the parents of their child’s friends – so if you’re worried about your child’s social life why not try and meet with other parents at school or at their favourite sports club and organise some play dates…?
Have You Thought about Your Child’s Sleeping Patterns?
If your child is sleep-deprived this can be an important factor that contributes to sluggishness or bad moods and prevent them from making friends. Children who don’t get enough good- quality sleep have been shown to exhibit symptoms of ADHD when actually they are just tired. If you have noticed that your child has trouble waking up in the morning for school, or sleeps especially late at the weekends then it should ring a bell. You might want to check that their mattress is of good standard, make sure that they sleep in a quiet environment, and even check for medical conditions such as sleep apnea which can have an effect on sleep quality.
Also, make sure that they are not watching TV or using electronic devices for at least an hour before going to bed as the blue light emitted from screens is known to disrupt sleep patterns.
If you are worried about your child’s ability to make friends it can be helpful to use a bit of introspection and think about how your own actions are influencing the way your child behaves. It also helps to have patience, as some children are simply late bloomers and will learn to pick up social skills later in life.