Most, if not all, children will tell you that the best part of their day is playing with friends during lunch, recess, or after school. Making friends is probably one of the most valuable things children can do as they continue to learn and grow. So how do we as parents become more involved without becoming overbearing and crossing the line between being an involved parent and a nightmare parent? Here are some tips on how to be involved in your child’s social life.
Tip #1: Get to know their friends
Whether you have young children or a teenager, getting to know their friends is a crucial part of getting involved in their social life. As children get older and more independent friends become their entire world and can be a big influence on what they do or don’t do. Getting to know them by inviting them into your home and making them feel loved and comfortable will help you feel better about who they’re spending their time with. Friends are a child’s entire social world so getting to know them is the best way to be involved with their social life.
Tip #2: Get to know their Teachers
That may sound like a strange thing to do as their teachers probably aren’t the ones the kids consider their friends right? Well, that may be true, a teacher sees and hears what kids do all day long and provide you with helpful insight as to who your child hangs out with and what types of activities they seem to enjoy together. It’s difficult as a parent to always know what your child is interested in as their interests change daily, so communicating and getting to know their teachers is another outlet for getting involved in their social life.
Tip #3: Get to know parents/ families of the friends
While getting to know the friends is a great way to build a relationship and be involved socially with your child, getting to know the parents and families of their friends will give you a better idea of where the friends come from, what they believe or don’t believe, and what their parents expect of them. Every parent will have different expectations and it can only benefit you by knowing what they are. It can also help you feel more comfortable about letting your child go over to someone else’s house for a few hours if you know what the parents and family are like.
Tip #4: Schedule a time for play dates
For young children it is crucial for their social development to have other children to relate to and play with. With such a busy and fast paced world it becomes necessary to schedule specific times for children to get together and “play.” As a parent this gives you a great opportunity to get involved with them. Instead of just letting them watch movies or play on the computer get involved and come up with some fun activities for the afternoon. Play dough, water and sand, or just walking to the park are only a few ideas that you can take advantage of the time with. For older children it may not be necessary to schedule play dates, but you can still take the same preparation in providing some fun activities for them.
Tip #5: Communicate with them
A great way to always know what’s going on with your child and their social life is to ask. Keep the lines of communication open all the time so they feel free to come and talk with you about the good and the bad days.
Learning how to be involved in your child’s social life may take a little extra effort on your part but is definitely worth it. Knowing your child and being involved with them and their friends is also help you stay close to them and build a healthy relationship.