Managing friendships

Even adults can find this difficult at times!  Most of us know what to do in different situations, but sometimes we get it wrong.

It can be the same for children – they have the social skills, but it goes wrong when the situation gets more complicated or hard to handle.

And these things are not easy to start with, so some children need a bit of help to learn the skills.

In general, there are two things that children need:

  • Play and conversations with adults so they can learn the skills:
    • set aside a short time each day when you can play with your child
    • play with them “like a child” – have fun and don’t be too bossy.  Try the SELFIE Steps
    • Model the social skills yourself – not just in play, but all the time.
    • talk to them about what is happening, and describe the skills you are using: “I need a blue pen.  Can I borrow your blue pen?  Thanks for letting me borrow.  Here it is back again”
    • if things go wrong, avoid blame and describe it from the child’s point of view: “I think you still needed the blue pen, so you did not want me to borrow it.  That’s OK, I can use it later”
    • notice and describe the things the child does well so they notice and understand these
    • have problem solving discussions about things the child finds hard.  E.g., “what’s a good way to get to share?”, “How can you tell someone you want to join in?”
  • Easy opportunities to practise with other children
    • many children need a lot of practice, so it is OK if things go wrong.  What matters is that you can explain to the child what happened and help them work out what to do next time
    • make sure there are enough things to reduce conflict over sharing
    • include some items where children have to co-operate – e.g., something it needs two to lift, etc
    • keep an adult presence to help interpret what is going on: “I think Calum wants to join in – can he play with you?”
    • model for the children what you are expecting them to do, including using language
    • Describe the good things you are seeing to the children – no need to use over the top praise