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Helping your child make friends after moving

Published: October 14, 2016 | Last Updated: December 14, 2016 By | Reply Continue Reading
Moving Day

Moving Day

Moving? Moving expert Ali Wenzke offers tips for parents to help ease the transition for their kids after a move.

They say a parent feels a child’s pain more acutely than the child does. I believe this is especially true when it comes to making new friends. If your child is struggling to make a friend, you will do anything you can to help.

Luckily, there are ways for you to help your child. Whether you recently moved to a new area or your child is having a tough time at school this year, I have some tips that can help:

Three steps to making a good first impression

For kids, there are THREE steps to making a good first impression (SEA). First, teach your child to smile. A smile is an open invitation to others. It lets other children know that your child is friendly and wants to engage with them.

Second, eye contact is critical. When someone looks you in the eye, you know they are listening and that they care.

Third, tell your child to keep his/her arms open. Crossed arms send out a signal that they are closed off and not interested in interacting with others. It’s okay for them to keeps their hands in their pockets. The main thing is that they should point their heart to the other person’s with arms by their side.

Practice, practice, and more practice

At my workshops for families who recently moved, I teach kids about SEA (smile, eye contact, and arms open). These life skills are rarely taught at a young age, but the children learn quickly and enthusiastically.

We play a flashcard game that I play at home with my own three children. Each flashcard contains one or more of the SEA steps. For example, if the card reads “Eye contact” and “Smile”, the child would practice those two steps. She stands in front of the audience, smiling and making eye contact. The audience guesses what things she did right.

This is a fun, interactive game you can play at home as well. You’ll get a lot of laughs, especially when you do things drastically wrong.

Dealing with rejection

Preparing your child to deal with rejection is equally important. If you prepare her/him ahead of time, you and your child can have a rational plan to help them cope.

Emotions can run high, even more so from a parent’s perspective, when rejection occurs. Maybe the other child is having a tough day or feels awkward in new situations. Whatever the reason, teach your child to say, “Okay, no problem. Maybe next time.” If this is a consistent problem with a specific child, guide your child to approach other children instead.

Every child has different needs

We all have different needs when it comes to friends. Some prefer large groups of friends and others prefer one close friend. Your child may have different needs than your needs and that’s okay. Our children sense our concerns. They may be trying to make friends to please us as parents when they are perfectly content doing their own thing at lunch or at recess.

Friendships do not happen overnight. Try to refrain from asking, “Did you make a new friend today?” Instead, ask about other things that happened at school or ask who the friendliest or silliest person was today.

Have confidence in your child

You can give your child the tools they need to make new friends. Teach them how to make a good first impression and practice at home. Make it fun through role play – the crazier the scenario, the better. Once your child feels confident, you can add in introductions and ways to say “hello.”

Eventually, though, your child will need to do this alone. You can’t stop rejection from happening and you can’t fast-track a friendship. My husband and I moved several times with our kids, so I know how hard it is. Nothing is more distressing than watching your child put her or himself out there. There is also nothing more satisfying than knowing your child did it on her or his own. Children will gain confidence they never knew they had and you will never feel more proud.

Ali Wenzke, moving expert, moved with her husband ten times in eleven years. Ali blogs at The Art of Happy Moving to help others with moving, making new friends, and living happily ever after.

Ali Wenzke

Ali Wenzke

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Category: Moving and friendship

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