When your child is able to walk and talk usually starting around 18 months of age, he/she will probably show a natural inclination to be around children his/her own age and join in group activities.
Some children use these opportunities to explore the children around them and make friends, but some remain a bit of loners.
Some children may be naturally solitary and just prefer it that way, there are many others who are simply shy and may need some help in taking those first steps to “Do you want to play with me?”
And it’s important for parents to face the friendship issue early as a child’s first interactions with others may shape their social patterns for the rest of their lives.
Understanding a child’s interactions with others is key to helping children make friends.
Sometimes parents worry that their young children are antisocial because they tend to poke, pull, hit, kick or bite other children when they are first introduced.
However child psycologists say this kind of behaviour is often a child’s way of “researching” these new little people that are surrounding him/her.
Reminding your child gently that his/her behaviour hurts the other child will help him/her to understand that other children are the same as she / he is. This will help the child understand that she/he should treat others as she /he would like to be treated.
Whether your child is school age or still home bound there are many steps that you can take to help him/her make new friends.
According to child psychologists , children who have trouble making friends often do so for one of two reasons: because they have not had the chance to make friends with other children or because they fail to make friends when they are around other children.
If your child seems constrained because he/she has yet to interact with others of his/her own age then it is your job to make sure that he/she has more opportunities.
If your child has been able to meet other children of his/her own age but still seems unable to make friends,then consider;
Taking your child to kid rich venues such as sunday school or play groups established by neighbourhood families.
Inviting children over for a play date so that your child can remain in the emotional comfort of his/her own home.
Keeping play dates small so that your child can devote all of his/her attention to one other child and one activity.
Encouraging cooperative play so that your child must interact with other children can also be helpful.
Allowing your child to dictate the events of the play date without pushing your agenda into the mix. If your child remains uninterested in the play date then consider getting involved in the play yourself.
Making friends is a natural process, though some young children need a some guidance to the right direction. Most importantly , listen to your child.
Do not assume that because big brother is a social butterfly there is something wrong if your younger child who wants to play alone.
If, even after a parent’s best efforts, a child still prefers to spend time alone then parents should consult a childcare expert, teacher or counselor for information pertinent to their specific situation.