Friendships take time to develop – you can’t rush a new acquaintance into being your friend. If you do then the friendship may not go the way you had wanted it to. No one wants to feel crowded or suffocated by a new friend.
Yes, it is nice to feel needed but nobody wants someone invading their space, being followed about all the time, asked questions or be invited over for a sleepover when you’ve only known the new friend a few weeks. It can seem like a desperation to be liked and needed, which can be off-putting. Friendships need to be taken slowly.
Helping Children Develop True Friendships
Teach your child to get to know someone by having a more relaxed approach to friendships. For example:
Don’t Rush: Ask questions to new friends and chat to them but then maybe wait a few weeks before they ask them to come over to their house or go out after school.
Build Trust: Work on building some trust and feel that they know and like a new friend more. They should feel that they could be possible good friends who will treat them well.
Don’t overshare: Children need to share who they are, slowly – without gushing out their life story. Friendships work best when you get to know each other slowly as it takes years to really get to know someone.
Know when to step back: Once your child has identified potential friends help them to let those friendships flourish gradually and if they do seem to be pushing them help them to take a step back.
Don’t be overbearing: Tell children to stop talking too much about themselves, ask less questions, and use less possessive language and behaviour.
Talk to your children about these points – making friendships isn’t always easy and it can be painful for children when it goes wrong. Help them to understand what true friendship is and what it means. It will help them to avoid potentially putting off their new friend and also understand how friends should treat them.