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Does your child struggle to make friends?

If you are worried because your child is a bit of a loner and seems shy or reluctant to make friends, there are ways you can help and it's extremely beneficial too because as well as being fun, playing with friends is a way for young children to learn social skills. 

Many parents and child experts will agree that the key is taking small, modest steps which will encourage social interactions with other children without being too pushy. The aim is to give your child opportunities to experience beneficial social experiences that will leave them wanting more rather than feel feeling pressurised into something they don't feel comfortable with.

Of course, you can't just pick friends for your child. As child psychologist Kimberly Sirl says "You really want to pay attention to your child's cues." There are many ways to help your child overcome shyness and play dates give a shy child a secure and comfortable place to start. 

Initially, keep the play dates small and short by inviting just one or two children and limit the time to 1 or 2 hours. Not sure who to invite? Ask your child who they like to spend time with at school or, better still acquaint yourself with other parents so you and the children can have a double play date. Library activity sessions and after school clubs are also a good way to meet other parents with children around the same age as your child. 

During the play date, don't just leave the children to it and hope they will get on! Prepare a few activities in advance such as cake baking, creating a collage, painting or board games. These are activities you will be able to oversee. To develop friendships, try to keep the play dates regular. After a few play dates, the children will be able to play more independently. 

For the most part of the time, shyness or difficulty making friends during childhood is normal. Your child simply may enjoy spending time alone. However, for many children, finding it difficult to make friends can have a negative effect and they may feel self-conscious and lack confidence as a result. Both of which can keep them from trying out new activities. Encourage your child to talk about how they feel can help them feel better about themselves. Knowing they can come to you for comfort and support can make a huge difference. You can help your child by getting tips about communication and attention issues, both will help your child build communication skills, improve social skills and become more resilient. There are all important skills that will help give your child the confidence they need to engage with other children.

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