Are your children quiet and shy? Do you find they have a hard time making friends?
According to Beverly Anderson, executive director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations on Milwaukee’s southside, and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Wauwatosa, “Being shy isn’t a bad thing, it just means that sometimes your children will need a little extra support in meeting new people and making friends.”
Anderson offers these easy tips to consider:
Lead by Example
Anderson reminds us that children are always watching their parents, so as adults we should have friends over do fun things with them, so our children can learn by example. Hosting a family game night with another family provides a non-threatening opportunity for children to see a how a whole family interacts with another family and how much fun it can be.
Another thing Anderson says you should seek out are books about friendships that you can read together, and discuss the neat things friends do together and for each other. The same suggestions apply to watching children’s television shows or movies together.
“If children see friendships all around them, hopefully they will see how much fun it can be to have friends and how to proceed with making new friends.”
Host Play Dates
Anderson says you should never underestimate the power of hosting regular play dates for your children to get to know other children better. She suggests that, for each play date, you only have a single classmate or child from your neighborhood over. Having the play date last less than two hours will help prevent the children from getting bored or worn out.
Anderson also says that you should plan ahead with your children and think of some activities that they can do while hosting the play dates. Talk with your children to find out what they might have in common with the children who are coming over: be it sports, Pokémon or the latest video game. Then stay involved in each play date you host by helping get the activities started, serving a snack to the children, or answering questions to let the children know you are available if they need you. Be careful not to be overbearing or controlling.
After each playdate, Anderson suggest that you talk to your children about it and find out what they liked, what was difficult for them and what they would do differently for the next play date.
“The key is to create a safe space for them to work on building friendships,” says Anderson. “Be patient and give it plenty of time.”
“The important thing to remember, adds Anderson, “Is that making friends is an important part of developing children’s socialization skills. Even though it might be more difficult for some children than others, making friends is a very critical life skill that needs to be developed. If you continue to see your children struggle at making friendships, the next step should be seeking professional help.”
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations on Milwaukee’s southside, and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.