Encouraging friendships
August 23, 2018


As parents we all want our children to make good grades and do well in school. Making friends is an important part of starting the school year on a positive note.

Communication and social skills are learned through experience and observation. Our kids need communication skills to be successful at school, on the job, and in life. While technology is a wonderful thing, it can inhibit a child's ability to learn this critical life skill. Children learn social skills from watching their parents interact with others, but they also learn from experiences with friends and other adults. These important life skills cannot simply be taught through instruction children need opportunities to develop them.

Get your child involved in after-school activities spending time with children who have the same interests in a safe, supervised setting is very important. Many after-school programs are available sports/recreation teams, Scouting programs, 4-H, church youth groups, dance, after-school programs at the schools or in your neighborhood all offer opportunities for children to get to know one another and build relationships.

Encourage your child to get involved in structured school activities like clubs, choir, band, or sports. Talk to your child about likes and interests and come up with a good program together. Keep your eyes open in the first weeks of school for information on activities kids can get involved in during and after school.

Get involved in your community! Volunteering creates a lot of opportunities to not only do something good for your community, but to also meet new people and develop friendships.

Get involved in your school PTA or PTO; sign up to help with school events at least a few times a year so that you can meet other parents.

Offer several opportunities for play and socializing. Host a play date, party, or a sleepover. Get to know your child's friends and their parents.

All children will experience conflict with friendships. Talk to your child about conflict resolution. Help your child learn how to solve conflict with friends so that the friendships can flourish. Don't get involved in the conflict, but talk to your child about the problem and help him or her brainstorm solutions. Texts, emails and social media posts can often be misleading. These forms of communication are not good ways to solve conflict and can at times create conflict and misunderstandings. Encourage your child to talk face-to-face with friends when conflict arises.


Ferrer, Millie, and Anne M. Fugate. "Working with School-Age Children: Promoting Friendship." University of Florida, 2008. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. .

"Social Competency: Fostering Your Child's Lifelong Success." The Parent Line. Oregon State University - Family Care Connection, July-Aug. 2012. Web. 20 Aug. 2012. .

"Value of Face-to-Face Connections." N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2012. .

Jodi Smith is a WVU Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development.


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