Starting secondary school can be a daunting experience for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children who are shy or introverted. If your child is starting secondary school, you may be wondering how you can help them make new friends, especially if they are joining without any friends from their previous school. We explore some tips on how to help your child make friends at secondary school, how to build their confidence and how to help them settle into the new school year.
Tips on how to help your child make friends at school
With the new school year under way, many children might have started somewhere without their friends which can feel overwhelming and quite scary. If your child has started secondary school without their core friends, try these tips to help them feel less worried about being alone:
1. Talk to your child about friendships
As a parent, speaking to them about their concerns is the first step to helping them feel more confident. Ask them who they miss and how they can maintain their friendships whilst starting to make new ones.
2. Discuss what makes a good friend
Talk about what qualities they are looking for in a friend or what they love in their existing friendships. This can help children recognise the things they enjoy about their friends so they can look for people who share the same qualities. It also helps spot the negative behaviours they don’t like so they can make good decisions on who they spend time with.
3. Encourage them to join clubs or activities
This is a great way to meet new people who share similar interests. It can also help your child to build their confidence and social skills. If your child enjoys sports or other activities, encouraging them to join a club will help them create friendships outside of school too. This naturally widens their social circles and can help take the pressure off them feeling they need to make new friends at school too.
4. Be positive and supportive
Don’t pressure them to make friends right away and be patient as they find their way. It might be that their friendships are built outside the school gates and they’re happy starting secondary school without expectations of making new friends straight away. Let your child know that you believe in them and that you’re there to help them through this next stage in their lives.
Make sure you take the pressure off both you and your child to make friends straight away. Help them to get settled into the new school term first and then they’ll feel more comfortable finding new friends.
6. Help them build independence
Secondary school is a pivotal moment in your child’s life, and as a parent, it’s the perfect time to build their independence. If they ask and if it’s possible, let them walk to school on their own or even catch the bus without you. Giving them some freedom will help build their confidence and hopefully encourage them to start up conversations with their peers too.
Making friends is a skill that takes time and practice but with these tips, you can help your child make friends at secondary school in a way that feels easy for them.