Encouraging Positive Friendships and Social Skills



  • Timing is important. Encourage children to join in a game at an appropriate stage. Wait for a break in the game, or wait until somebody has finished speaking.
  • If a game is well underway, it is often best to wait until the next game begins before joining in. Just sit and watch and take an interest for a while


  • A child's attitude really sets the scene for social interactions. Encourage children to approach groups with a smile on their face, rather than looking downcast or sad.
  • When approaching a group, make a positive comment about the activity, or take a positive interest in what is being said.
  • Ask interested questions, or congratulate somebody on how they are playing (e.g. "Good shot", or "How did you make that machine?")
  • Don't let the fear of rejection stop your child from trying. With a positive attitude, it doesn't hurt to approach a group and take an interest in joining in. Often this type of behavior shows that your child is interested in fostering a friendship, which may have been unexpected.


  • Children who are adaptable are more readily accepted into games and conversations.
  • If the game will not accommodate an extra person, be prepared to be adaptable. Take on a different role, or do something to help the group in another way.
  • Remember that it was somebody else's game or conversation to begin with. Don't try to change the game or the rules. Go along with what the others are doing, and play the role you have been given.


  • Remind children that it will not always be possible to join in a game or conversation.
  • Encourage children to see why it may not be possible (e.g. they do not have enough equipment, or the game has almost finished).
  • Don't take rejection to heart. It's not always a criticism, but often a matter of convenience or logistics.
  • Remind children that we can't expect to be liked by everyone, or included in every game.

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