"How do I teach my child social skills, when I don't know how to make friends?"
"How do you have time to maintain a friendship when life is so busy with work and kids?"
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"How do I overcome my social anxiety and relax?"
These are just some of the questions that were asked by adult participants about their own lack of intimate friends at my parenting workshop on The Left Out Child-The Importance of Friendship. The evidence is overwhelming on why good peer relationships enhance the quality of life and learning for children as well as adults.
Social Anxiety or Social Skills
How adults manage social situations affects the way those children around them view human interaction. If you have meaningful relationships that add pleasure and joy to the quality of your life, they will see and want to have the same thing. When the extended circle of caring nurtures the individual, they will look for the similar qualities in their friends.
Friendship is Springboard to Life
Friendship has been describes as the springboard to every other love. Communication and interaction skills learned with friends spill over into every other relationship in life. Those who have no friends also tend to have a diminished capacity for sustaining marriages, work and neighborhood relationships.
If your children are involved in extra-curricular activities, step up and invite the other families to share a pot luck meal before or after the game. Our son's soccer team had a pasta meal before every game, rotating between houses of players and coaches. It allowed the families to form a bond of support and friendship that moved beyond the soccer field.
Importance of Body Langauge in Friendship
The best way I know to make a friend is to be approachable and open to others.. Non-verbal language is the communication of relationships and 55% of the emotional meaning of a message is expressed through body language. Another 38% is transmitted through the tone of our voice. Only 7% is actually expressed by words.
Verbal language is the language of information, and may or may not be remembered. When you smile and look people in the eye, extend your hand and ask to be included, you will be. If you posture, facial tone and confidence, says "I like myself" others will like you too.
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Making friends is a skill and skills can be learned. Like many life skills, they may not be easy, but they are simple and just need to be practiced until they become second nature. Yes, it can take time and effort on your part to build a network of people you can trust and care for and who will in turn be loyal and kind to you. It is well worth the effort for you and your children to find a support system to be with in the good times and the not so good times that accompany all of us in life..
Building and maintaining relationships will be one of the most rewarding projects of your life.