In the last instalment, Getting to Know Someone, I suggested that you encourage your kids to ask questions when they meet new people. I hope they are doing it, and that they, and you, have learned a few things about their peers. Who lives with them at home? Do they have pets? What are their favourite foods? What do they like to do for fun? What is their favourite school subject?
By asking questions like these, not only do we get to know people, but we have an opportunity to find common ground. When we find common ground with someone, we make a connection, and, just like that, we may have found a new friend.
I offer you one adorable example:
I was in the music room with 4-year-old Darcy when my phone rang. I glanced at the screen and said, “Oh look, my mommy’s calling.”
Wide-eyed and incredulous, he cried out, “You have a mommy too?” Then we both talked about our mommies, and how special they are, and how much they love us.
Oh, you live with a stepparent? So do I! I thought I was the only one! You enjoy finger painting? We should finger paint together! Your favourite subject is science? I thought everyone hated science but me. Young children often think their experiences are unique, and finding common ground with someone can be exhilarating. Far from being alone in the world, they learn that they are part of a wider community of finger painters, stepchildren, and budding scientists, any of whom might make a lifelong friend.
RECOMMENDED: 101 Ways to Teach Children Social Skills by Lawrence E. Shapiro
Vanessa Farkas is a writer, musician, educator, and lifetime learner who worked at the Phoenix Education Foundation as a music teacher from 2010-2018 and has left to retrain and pursue a new career as a legal assistant. Her eight years at Phoenix have left her enriched with experiences and stories, and this series blends those stories and experiences with practical advice and perspectives on helping children develop social skills. Names have been changed.