Friends along with parents and teachers are the biggest influence in a child's life. They become an even bigger influence as kids enter their teens.
This can take many forms. Your child does not have to be physically threatened to be bullied. Girls tend to use name-calling, intimidation and social exclusion more than boys. Girls are often more subtle in their bullying than boys but can be just as hurtful. Lukewarm comments about previous friends can be a clue. Teachers can often spot these changes so checking with them now and again can help spot bullying early.
- Teach your kid to recognize the signs of bullying
- Talk to teachers if you suspect bullying. They are much more aware of this problem
- Teach your child to be assertive
- Having a group of close friends will reduce the chances your child will be picked on
Difficulty making friends
Kids can have difficulty making friends and most kids can run into this at some stage. Excluding kids, name calling, talking badly about kids behind their backs, creating rumors are all common behaviors kids have to deal with at some stage. This can really take a toll on a kids self esteem and your child may not tell you directly when this is going on. One way to address it is not to have your kid depend on only having friends at school.
- You can enroll your kid in an activity with kids of the same age not from their school. It can be sports, dance, music, anything really. This gives them a group of kids that they can get to know independent of the school situation.
- Make contact with the other parents and set up play dates whenever the opportunity permits.
- A summer camp in your area also is a great source of new friends.
The bottom line is that you want your child to have school friends and have at least one other independent set of friends so if one set becomes troublesome then they can draw on their other set of friends.
After a divorce, a child may be quite withdrawn socially. If your child is becoming socially isolated, it may be time to get some professional help.
Moving to a new area
You may have had to move from your home after your divorce and so find yourself in a new area surrounded by strangers. It takes time to get to know your neighbors but your kids will also need to get to know new people. As you go through the process of meeting new people, you are acting as a role model for your kids. Admitting that you feel a little awkward or shy around strangers to the tween or teen can help them recognize that their feelings are normal. Seeing you go ahead and socialize despite those feelings allows them to learn that those feelings do not have to drive their behavior.
Non-custodial parents may not be in the area where their child goes to school. This can lead to school friends contacting your kid only when they are at the ex's house and they may be uncomfortable (usually it's the parents who are uncomfortable) making contact at your house. Breaking down those barriers involves you getting to know your kids friends and their parents and for them to get to know you.
- Make contact with other parents at school functions
- Offer to help at the school. Your children may now be in a new school and new kids can find it difficult to break into the social circles already established in school
- Throw a party and invite the kids in the class
- Make friends with neighbors who have kids
- Get your kids involved in local sports and activities