By BERN MORLEY.
Just over a year ago, my husband and I moved our three children 2,000kms away from the only place they’d ever known. Just for an added degree of difficulty we moved just as my 12 year old daughter was about to start her very first year of High School.
Now, as we all know, starting High School is hard even if you have the bonus of knowing half of your class. High School is basically a real life Mean Girls, so imagine how anxious I was knowing that my daughter was about to walk into that big bad world not knowing a single soul.
Luckily when we moved down to Melbourne, we moved into a large complex that had a pool and various other communal sporting facilities. One afternoon, we were sitting around the pool and I overheard one of the girls telling her friend that she was starting the same High School as Maddie.
So of course I took it upon myself to try and you know, make a friend for my daughter. Just like that. Not surprisingly this didn’t work out too well. Apart from the mortified look that was on Maddie’s face, the girl in the pool almost recoiled in horror at the “old” lady trying to set her up on a teenage play date. I quickly found that I had read the playbook ALL WRONG.
The boys were a different matter. Jack was starting Prep and was as fresh and as green as the next kid. Making friends is and never will be an issue for Jack. Keeping the good ones however, will be. He’s no wall flower is Jack and is known by most every child in his school. Not for all the right reasons I hasten to add.
Sam, well Sam has Aspergers. Socially, it’s already a struggle from the get go. To plant him in a school and just hope he makes friends is naïve at best. I won’t pretend, Sam has struggled tremendously to make friends at school. He just doesn’t seem to understand that talking ad nauseam about a prehistoric shark isn’t going to be the way to make friends and influence people.
So there you have it. Three very different children. Three very different school circumstances. And two very scared parents. Hoping, just hoping that they’ll all make at least ONE good friend. One friend they can count on. Because if they have a friend, half of the battle has already been won.
So how do you encourage and help your children to make friends in the school yard then?
Well as discussed above, it is not advisable you approach other children in public situations on their behalf. Experience has shown that this just makes them the kid with the weird mother.
Michael Grose, one of Australia’s most popular speakers and writers on parenting and family matters suggests the following to help your children make friends at school.
“Adults help children develop friendships by the quality of the relationships that they form with them. As the majority of children’s behaviours are learned from observation or through interaction, adults can have a significant effect on children when they display appropriate relationship behaviours