Parental guid­ance: Teach­ing chil­dren how to make friends

Texarkana Gazette - - FEATURES - Newsday By Beth White­house

A new school year of­fers kids a chance to make new friends. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, who earned her doc­tor­ate in clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at Stony Brook Univer­sity and is co-au­thor of “Grow­ing Friend­ships: A Kids’ Guide to Mak­ing and Keep­ing Friends” (Aladdin/Be­yond Words, $14.99), of­fers this ad­vice to kids who could use some so­cial skills tu­tor­ing:

n Prac­tice friendly ges­tures. Kids should look a per­son in their eyes. They should smile and look happy to see some­one.

n Use peo­ple’s names. “If you can, say the per­son’s name when talk­ing to them,” Kennedy-Moore says.

n Fo­cus on con­nec­tions. “What do you have in com­mon with the other kid? What do you like to do that they like to do, too?” Then talk about that, and make plans to do it to­gether at re­cess or af­ter school. “Friend­ships are more sta­ble if kids are to­gether in mul­ti­ple con­texts,” KennedyMoore says. Try to see each other in the neigh­bor­hood or on the same sports team, for in­stance.

n Sug­gest play dates. “One-on-one play dates are crit­i­cal for deep­en­ing friend­ships,” Kennedy-Moore says.

n Don’t come on too strong. “Kids think they have to be so amaz­ing and im­pres­sive,” Kennedy-Moore says. Don’t overdo it.

Blend into groups. It’s a bad idea to tell kids, “Why don’t you go over to them and ask if you can play?” Kennedy-Moore says. “Kids who suc­cess­fully join in a group do it with­out draw­ing at­ten­tion to them­selves. Slide into the ac­tion with­out in­ter­rupt­ing it.”

Ex­pect that friend­ships may change.”Friend­ships are pretty frag­ile for kids. In first grade, half the friend­ships don’t make it from fall to spring,” Kennedy-Moore says. “Kids who are able to make other friends are fine.”

Kennedy-Moore’s book of­fers more ad­vice us­ing car­toons and a cat and dog char­ac­ter. She sug­gests par­ents read it with their kids. “It can prompt im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tions,” she says.

Tri­bune News Ser­vice

n Teach your chil­dren how to make friends.

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