Being new in school or moving to a new neighborhood is not easy! Whether we remember being the new kid ourselves or we remember seeing that new face on campus, we can all empathize in some way.
Whenever we see someone who looks like he or she needs a helping hand or a smiling face, let’s pause and imagine what Lily, from Superheroes Club, might do herself or enlist her friends to do. In this post, we’ll explore some ways for kids to make new friends or help a new kid feel comfortable and welcomed in his or her new situation.
We certainly can’t make friends FOR our kids. What we can do as parents, teachers, coaches, or mentors is to teach them the social skills necessary to reach out and connect with their peers and with the adults at school and in their communities. These are important life lessons that will help them form and maintain their social relationships from their early schoolyard days well into their adult lives.
Consider the following:
1. Be a Buddy
Seek out a school or program that has a “buddy system” or a similar system in place. This provides the structure within which the adults in charge find a suitable partner (buddy or mentor), to help the new kids adjust to their unfamiliar surroundings. With adult guidance, it is a great way for kids to make new friends and be helpful - even it is may feel strange at first.
2. Some kids are extremely friendly.
If you know you have a “Lily” on your hands, then encourage him or her to be the “friendship ambassador,” or even start a “Superheroes Club,” giving him or her a platform to reach out and meet the new kid(s).
3. Encourage your kids to say “Hello.”
When there are new faces at school, kids should know that they don’t have to wait for permission or encouragement from an adult to reach out and get to know the new student. Just by saying, “hello” kids can help new kids feel comfortable and welcomed. Even a simple wave and a smile can be very powerful.
4. Every kid is different.
It’s important to understand this, to be patient and to allow new students to adjust to their new situations, in their own way and when they’re ready. Reaching out is always a good idea, but it is equally important to back off when the new kids aren’t quite ready to participate in all activities or become part of the group.
5. Be yourself!
Remind your kids that lasting relationships are based on honesty and simply being themselves. We should also remind them that accepting other kids for whoever they might be is also important in forming relationships and maintaining social interactions at school, on the playground, and in life.
6. Invite, invite, invite!
If kids are shy and don’t want to interact, they won’t. The key is to understand their reluctance and provide a variety of opportunities to get them involved. Here, too, it takes patience and a friendly outreach to acknowledge acceptance and encourage participation because new kids need time to adjust. Have your kid be the one to organize friends, old and new, to a Friday afternoon at the skate park, or a group activity in class, or a game on the playground, or even a new kids’ lunch. The one thing to remember is that friendly, outgoing kids shouldn’t be discouraged when an invite doesn’t get much of an enthusiastic reaction. It will eventually, and everyone responds to friendship in different ways and at different times.
These are just some suggestions to how we, as adults, can help guide the kids, in our lives, to make friends and be friends.
If you have any suggestions of your own, we believe Lily and the rest of the Superheroes Club could benefit from them! Let us know!