In the last blog post, I cited several possibilities that might contribute to kids having trouble making or keeping friends. I'd like to address another angle this week: when kids don't feel lovable and thereby worthy of friendship. There are simple yet important things parents, therapists, and educators can do.
Tell your kids, "I love you," and give them lots of hugs and kisses.
Listen and validate their feelings. Show empathy.
Do "Special Mommy Time" and "Special Daddy/Totty Time," and make them feel like you really enjoy their company!
Praise the greens at the rate of "6 Sugars to 1 Vinegar," i.e. praise kids way more than criticizing them.
When correcting behavior, comment on the behavior and not on the child. For example, try "Please clean up your room" instead of "You're such a slob. Look at your room!" The goal is to correct the behavior and not to criticize the essence of the child.
Do fun things as a family.
Give kids chores and make them feel appreciated for helping out and contributing to the family.
For Therapists and Educators:
Make the child feel that you value your time together and truly enjoy their presence. Although we can't take the place of parents, children can discover that they are valued and appreciated just for being themselves!
Find each child's strength and highlight it to the child. Create a collage or poster of all their strengths and talents.
Listen, validate, and show empathy.
Praise the greens.
When we model for children that we enjoy them, they can learn to believe that their peers will enjoy their friendship as well.