As children return to school in September, they look forward to meeting different classmates and making new friends in an exciting new social environment. Many children may also feel nervous about the school social scene. Depending upon their past social experiences, children might be determined to find new friends, or they may want to stick with their old friends. Some children have many friends and a large social circle, while others have one or two close friends.
Discuss with your child how he is feeling about his friends and his new classmates. Often, just chatting will help put your child at ease. If your child is anxious about how to make new friends, you can suggest ways for her to introduce herself and invite her peers to play. Depending on the age of your child, he may need pointers on what exactly to say when making introductions, or on how to politely ask to be included in an activity. Inclusion and exclusion seem to become bigger issues as students get older, so this is another topic that may be important to discuss.
Many schools teach social responsibility and have an anti-bullying program and protocol in place; students are taught what to do if they encounter bullying behaviour. Encourage your child to talk with you about any social challenges she may encounter with friends or other students. Having a quick chat about school every few days will give your child a chance to debrief and share her feelings and experiences with you. If she is the target of a bully, or a group of bullies, it is important to contact her teacher right away; bullying is most often done outside of classroom, and the teacher may not be aware of the situation. So in order to resolve the situation any and all such conflicts should be immediately brought to the attention of the teacher.
Getting along with others is an ongoing learning process, and supporting your child in this process will be beneficial, both in school and beyond. School is a great place to meet a diverse group of friends, and it provides a positive social environment for children to have fun and learn with each other.