Making Friends: Teach Your Child to Reach Out to Others

Making Friends over LunchMaking friends hard for some children. It’s true we can teach our daughter to feel good about herself or teach a son important social skills. However, there is another important lesson our child needs to learn.

Making Friends Means Reaching Out

Nothing is so boring as a self-absorbed person. While it is natural to think of our own needs first and is likely that a shy child is consumed with his own needs and fears, the secret is to reach out to the other person.

Jesus said it best when he taught his disciples the importance of being a servant.  “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26-28.

How do we teach that lesson to a child who has trouble making friends?  Surprisingly, this concept is easier to teach to a shy child than to one who seems to be in control of his world.  The child who has trouble with social interaction understands the feelings of others.  He needs you to help him see that all people have needs and insecurities.

A Practical Approach to Making Friends

As a high school counselor, I discovered that students who felt like outsiders believed that they were the only ones who felt that way.  If a student were willing to play my little game, I taught them to observe, listen for signs of insecurities, and then give positive affirmation to other students.  It was amazing to see previously shy students reach out to others.

As they watched for signals that said, “I want to know that I am liked,” they learned to say something to make the other person feel better.  Soon, they forgot that they were taller than most of their classmates, talked with a lisp, or did not have the best clothes.  Not only were they overlooking their own perceived inadequacies, they were making others feel good about themselves.

Can you help your child look beyond himself to the needs of others?  That is exactly what Jesus told his disciples to do.  By serving others, your child will become a friend and have friends.

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