Watching kids play at a park or on the playground is truly a social experiment. It really is a case of finding friends they click with. They may get down at times but tell them not to give up, and to “just keep swimming” like Dory until they find what they’re looking for.
On any trip to the playground, you have the kids who play quietly, the kids who are on the louder side, and the kids who just play with a small group of friends. No matter what group your child falls into, it’s important to teach them how to make friends on the playground. It will help them get along in the sandbox of life when they’re older.
Here are some tips for Playground Networking 101:
The Name Game. It may sound simple, but a quick, “Hi, my name is____” is usually enough of an ice breaker for kids. From there, many kids will just start playing. If your child is nervous about introducing themselves, practice beforehand. A fun way to do this is at home with a stuffed animal. You know Teddy will be happy to meet your child any day! This will hopefully make things easier when he goes to meet other kids.
The “Do You Wanna” Game. Sometimes making friends means stepping out of your comfort zone, even for kids. While some kids have no problem approaching another child, others are petrified! That’s why you have to teach them that it’s okay to ask another child to play. “Do you wanna play on the swings?” is a good ice breaker.
Be a Joiner. You can teach your child that it’s okay to ask “Hey, can I play?” to a group of kids. You can even lead by example by approaching a group of other moms and striking up a conversation. Show them there’s nothing to be afraid of by reaching out to other people. If the other kids say no, because sometimes they will, tell them that unfortunately there are people like that in the world. There’s nothing wrong with them because the others didn’t want them to join. It’s just part of life. Move on to the next sandbox.
Remind your kids that everyone may not be ready to hop onto their friendship bus. But, teaching your kids how to make friends now is an important skill they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. What's your and your child's favorite "ice breaker" game? Let us know in the comments below!