Promoting friendships

November 7, 2011

Friendship, peer relationships and getting along with other people is an important part of any child’s development. For many students making and keeping friends seems to be quite effortless, but for others it can be a challenge.

Research by Psychologists Gladys Williams and Dr Steven Asher for the national network for child care found that one in ten school-age students have no friends and are disliked by a majority of their classmates.

Over the coming months,I will be talking with students, teachers, psychologists and others about how to help children make and keep friends.

One of the strategies I recommend is to spend a few minutes each day teaching social communication with the whole class. Engaging in social communication activities for several minutes a few times per week with the whole class can be more effective in teaching age appropriate social skills than a separate program.

Try using one quick exercise from a social skills program each day, or ask one question such as, ‘What do you do if your friend doesn’t want to play with you today?’ or ‘What is wrong with quitting a game and storming off when you start to lose?’ Have students discuss in pairs and report back to the class.

What has been your experience in assisting students with friendship skills, especially more needy children through to young adolescents? What type of interactions, activities, questions and ideas have you found that work with specific types of kids? What type of questions might help students with various needs to learn more about positive peer relationships and friendship development?

Murray Evely