Making friends at school is a happy outcome of children chatting, playing, laughing and growing up together – but it’s normal to worry about them struggling to mix.

If you are losing sleep about them missing out on making friends, child behaviour experts can suggest some ways for young people to enjoy conversations with their peers. Listening to others and being interested in what they have to say makes people feel good and can help friendships blossom.

1. Be a good listener
According to childhood studies parents can help their children learn active listening skills. Step-by-step advice on how to help children listen is: face your classmate, look them in the eye and resist the urge to interrupt them. All of these little actions show that you are paying attention.

2. Golden rules
Little tips that help children connect with others: when you talk to someone smile, make sure you speak clearly and confidently, look people in the eye and try not to cover your mouth with your hands when you speak.

3. Be interested in others
Two-way conversations are based on trading information. Remind your child to not simply ask questions. They can offer information about themselves and when starting a conversation with someone new it’s helpful to trade information about common ground (the weather, lessons) and ‘like’ and ‘dislikes’.

4. Take a breath
Remind them not to steal the conversation. When a chat is in full flow they can answer the question at hand and then leave space for a friend to chat, or ask a fresh question of your own.

5. Practice makes perfect
It’s never a bad idea to set up regular video calls with as many people as possible (friend’s children or cousins of a similar age are great) because it helps children practice their conversational skills in a relaxed setting.

To read more about ways to make friends, visit the Childline website – https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/friends-relationships-sex/friends/top-tips-making-friends/

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