Helping Children Foster New Friendships

The start of a new school year is an exciting time for many children, as they are reunited with old friends from the previous year and anticipate the prospect of making new friends in their new class and year level. However, for some children, re-establishing friendships can feel challenging after a lengthy summer holiday and fewer social catchups outside of school due to COVID-19.

Friendships are critical for developing a child’s sense of belonging and connectedness and for building their self-esteem. Friendships also allow children to develop important social skills such as managing conflict and getting along with other people, which will support them throughout their lifetime. 

Below are a few ideas that may help your child to reconnect with old friends and form new friendships at the start of the school year.

1. Practice 

Friendships require social skills, so help your young child to practice basic skills such as smiling, introducing themselves, and asking if another child would like to play. 

2. Play 

Playing with your child will help them to develop important skills in negotiation and cooperation. Regular family board game evenings are just one way to incorporate play into your weekly routine. 

3. Playdates 

Playdates are a great way to foster new school friendships and practice friendship skills. Help your child to arrange a playdate by finding out who they would like to spend time with and contacting the parents to organise this. To help the playdate go smoothly: 

  • Keep the first playdate to an hour or two. 
  • Consider meeting up at a neutral location, such as a playground or local park. 
  • If you invite another child to your house, plan some activities beforehand in case they need a little help in deciding what to play or do. 
  • Talk to your child beforehand about what they are hoping to do with their friend, and encourage them to ask their friend what they wish to do. 
  • Start with some food or drink to help break the ice and allow the children to settle in together. 
  • Give your child and their friend some space to play together but remain available in case they require help. They may need you to provide some structure and guidance as they develop their friendship skills. 

4. Open communication 

Talk with your child about their friendships at school and let them know that you care about their wellbeing. You may even share some of your own difficult experiences with friends or read them books about friendship struggles. They will be more likely to open up to you about their challenges and struggles if they know you will listen and help them with solving problems. 

5. Extra-curricular activities and interests 

Encourage your child to try a wide range of different activities. Children with varied interests are more likely to find common interests with other children. 

If your child is struggling to make friends at school, try to find some extra-curricular activities where they will meet other children with similar interests, such as art classes, chess club, tech workshops, sport, or music. 

6. Model 

It is important to model positive social behaviour at home. Children will learn from the way you interact with others. 

Further information 

If you have any concerns about your child’s friendships, talk to your classroom teacher, Year Level Coordinator or the College Counselling team.

St Peters Lutheran College Indooroopilly has teamed up with Dr Justin Coulson’s Happy Families to help support our ongoing commitment to wellbeing. Our entire school community now has FREE access to resources which will help families, staff and students to flourish. 

You can get help with common parenting challenges such as Sibling Rivalry, Managing Screens, Building Resilience, Dealing with Anxiety in your Child and more. 

Subscribe to the Happy Families website using the school's unique URL: 

Jackie Yorke - Student Counsellor