Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to teach our children how to engage and make friends.
However, for some children, making friends may not come naturally . They may feel anxiety or seem indifferent about being around their peers. Take advantage of Valentine’s Day by encouraging your child to make gifts such as “friendship bracelets” and giving it to one of their friends. (Mommies can’t count as a friend this time!)
By coaching our children to practice positive social skills, and how to engage with peers, they are more likely to:
Have higher self-esteem
Become more resilient to difficult situations
Feel part of a group
Practice taking on different group roles (i.e., leader, follower)
Learn empathy and listening skills
Enhance their speech and vocabulary
Learn how to take turns and share
Practice being patience with others
Learn how to build relationships with peers and teachers
Back to the bracelets… not only are they super easy to make but they also double as a musical instrument for the Valentine’s Song at the end of this post!
I used clear stretchy string, heart beads, and white bells to make these bracelets…but you can use whatever fun charms you can find.
String them on the string….and there you go…easy as pie.
Many children may need additional help on who to give to and how to go about giving their bracelet to a friend. As a “coach”, remember to PRACTICE, PRAISE, AND PROMPT!
PRACTICE! Coach your child to substitute an appropriate response for an inappropriate one. Create situations where the child can practice skills such as saying “Hello,” or engaging in conversation with a friend.
PRAISE! Give words of encouragement to your child when you catch them being “friendly” towards someone or have used a great social skill. Words of encouragement can be: “ I can tell you are working really hard towards being a friend to that person…” or “I loved the way you were looking at them in the face when talking to them!”
PROMPT! Gently remind your child when they have forgotten a skill such as a nonverbal cue of zipping the lips when a child is about to interrupt or saying, “Remember to use your inside voice” when speaking too loudly. Use prompts in a calm gentle voice. Don’t correct their behavior in frustration.
Now, are you ready to get your dance on??? Grab your little Valentines and sing and dance along:
For more info on the signs that your child may need some “friendship coaching” visit me on my parenting blog Weeds to Wishes here.