Teach Your Child to be a Good Friend
Puppets are a great way to help your kids practice the social skills they need to make friends. Keep a corner or container in your house filled with puppets and puppet-making materials found around your home, such as old socks, buttons, and string. Or draw a puppet. Use the puppets to:
- Discuss an upsetting incident reported by your child on the way home from school. Discover what happened, what was done to solve the problem, and what could be done the next time the problem occurs.
- Give all in a confrontation a chance to discuss the events that led to the conflict, their feelings, and ways to solve the problem.
- Encourage shy children to tell you about their day, friends, feelings, and fears.
- Join in playtime with your kids in an easy, friendly way.
Accent The Positive
Children need to make friends. They also need to be able to keep their friendships and their communications pleasant, appropriate, and safe. Present several situations to your children at the dinner table. Then ask, “What would Wally Bear and his friends do?” As a family, come up with ways to handle each situation. For example:
- A girl and a boy are pretending to cook. They tell others that there is only enough room for two in the “kitchen.” How could others join the game and make it more fun?
- A boy pretends to be a firefighter. His friend wants to play but doesn’t want to be a firefighter. He wants to be a policeman. What could they do to change the pretend game so they can play together?
- Two children are playing in a playhouse. The house is small. The rules of the preschool classroom say only two at a time in the house. How could more than two children play with the playhouse together?
When My Friend Comes To Play
When you feel you and your children are ready to have friends over to play, planning will help the visit go smoothly and be fun. How many children you choose to invite at one time will depend on your child’s age. Make decisions with your kids about:
- The best place to play: In their room? In the backyard? At the park?
- The best toys to play with (and those that should be put away, out of sight, and out of temptation!)
- Food or drink
- The best time limit for the play: 1 hour? 2 hours?
- The best time for the visit: After school? Saturday morning?
- Whom to invite?
- With older children, the best number of kids to invite
- Possible strategies if conflicts arise
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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