Helping kids find new friends is challenging for a variety of reasons. As parents, we want our kids hanging out with the “right” friends – ones who have similar values, who will treat our child with respect, and who will walk with them down a good path rather than lead them down a dangerous one. Kids with a quiet/slow-to-warm temperament will find it extra hard to break into a new group of friends.
A good first step is to have faith in your child. They’ll need some support and encouragement but chances are, with your help and coaching, they’ll do OK. A second step is to think of this like networking. Some people think of “networking” as an exercise in self-promotion. But networking, the type that really gets results, is at it’s core about relationship building. Not every encounter will turn into a “business deal” and building relationships takes an alignment of needs, goals, and timing. In addition, it takes lots of patience and persistence to build those quality relationships….something that can be in short supply during change and transition.
For the quiet/slow-to-warm child, practicing talking to new people through role-playing might help. Assist them in developing a “script” that they can use to overcome nerves and keep the conversation going when they are getting to know peers. Asking open-ended questions provides incredible opportunities to discover shared interest and shared values. “Where is the best place to get decent pizza?” will open the door to connect with other pizza aficionados.
Getting kids involved in activities can help them connect with like-minded individuals and provide opportunities for “networking” as well. Make sure that in the interest of keeping your kids busy so they don’t have to experience the painful transition you don’t over-schedule. They need some time to breath, adjust and grieve.
The stress of moving your family is difficult and no parent should have to move without a written game plan.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.