Misery loves company. The truth is EVERYONE loves company, some of us more than others. As human beings, we are hardwired to belong. For kids who move with their families, belonging can prove to be a challenge. We hear so many comedians and actors talk about developing their talent in response to moving so often – their theatrics made making friends easier.
Some kids make friends easily and some just don’t. This is due in part to temperament, in part to normal development, and in part due to underdeveloped social skills. It is painful to see our kids struggle. However, this (and the many more) struggles our kids face help them develop strong skills that lead to happy, productive lives - skills like communication, problem-solving, empathy, cooperation and negotiation to name just a few.
While your first instinct might be to jump in the middle of “helping” your kids make friends, resist!! The skills (and struggle) involved in making new friends are critical to later success in functioning well as part of a team, choosing a spouse, and being a productive member of a community. So what CAN you do to help?
· Listen, ask questions, listen more, ask more questions. Find out what’s going on and give them the opportunity to decide how they want to go about making friends.
· Provide opportunities. Be open and flexible. After a move your schedule is most likely packed. Plan to allot more time in your schedule, at least initially, to arrange play dates for younger kids, shuttle older kids around and meet new friends and their parents.
· Discover your inner actor. Practice role-playing with your kids. Let them develop their own scripts for introducing themselves and practice the give-and-take of conversations. Help kids discover what they have in common with peers and how to choose (or leave) friendship groups.
Moving with children is difficult and no parent should move without a written game plan.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.