Parenting: Friendships–When kids “break up.”

Posted by Emily Oppelt on 9/28/2012 to Raising Genius Heads Kids

Kids fight, argue, taunt, tattle, and make each other cry. How can you as a parent assess your kid’s friendship relationship to see if it’s worth it to hang on or let go? My daughter recently “got back together” with a long-time friend with whom she “broke up with” at the end of last school year. How does this happen? Do kids hold grudges? Is it appropriate?

Experts are saying that break-ups could have something to do with the difference in social skills between friends. Some kids are easy-going and can get along with others well. Some kids have trouble making friends and that can be the reason they try to hang on so hard once they do make them. My daughter seems to hold grudges; if you’re let in to her close-knit “circle” she has a tough time forgiving if you offend her (even, as in this case, it is ultimately deemed a misunderstanding). The social skills kids learn develop from their parents and their environment. Modeling behavior is probably the most effective way to demonstrate appropriate ways to interact with friends. Here are some tips from the Women and Children’s Health Network discussing how to get along with other people:

Look interested
Give eye contact. Look at the person you are talking to or who is talking to you.

Work on your conversation skills
Work at making that person know that you are really interested in what they are saying. Make listening noises and be ready to answer if they ask a question.  Ask them to tell you about what they are interested in.

Learn to read body language
Watch the expression on people's faces. Don't interrupt. If they look busy and hardworking don't try to start a conversation.

Join in
Watch the popular TV shows and find out about the things other kids are talking about or are interested in so that you can join in their conversations. Join in their games and activities too. Practise how to ask about joining in. If they already have even teams you might ask someone if you could have turns with them.

Ask others
If you have a ball or some other thing to play with ask others to join in with you. If you don't feel confident about asking the "popular" kids, ask kids who don't have friends to play with to join with you.

Learn to encourage others
Make positive comments to people. "That was a good shot," "Well done", "Great drawing" etc. A  quiet word of praise makes someone feel good and gets you noticed as being a kind and positive person. (Making a big production of something can embarrass the person you are trying to compliment.)

Offer to help
You can help others by 'making up the numbers' on their team, bringing something for them to use in a project, lending things, keeping score, being the referee, taking part in a group activity and showing yourself to be a reliable member of an activity group.

It’s okay to say "No"
If you say "Yes" to everyone even when you don't want to do something then you will find that other kids will "put on you". If people say "No" to you when you ask to play or something, you have to understand that they have the right to make that decision, just as you have the right to say "No" when you don't want to do something.

If you get upset when people say "No" to you then check out how other kids handle it and learn to expect that you will not always be able to have what you want.

Stay away from fighters, bullies and troublemakers
People who are constantly in trouble with the teacher and who bully other kids are really not popular with anyone. They collect 'hangers-on' whom they allow to do their 'dirty work'. Avoid them if you want to have real friends.

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