Making friends starts with being friends with myself.
Children (and adults!) need to understand that being their own friend is the first step to being friends with others. How can we be friends with others and show them love & kindness but cannot show love & kindness towards ourselves?
We are all our biggest critics. Consciously and subconsciously we criticise ourselves on a daily basis. A child (and adult, yet again) who constantly criticises themselves and is unkind to themselves, will find it challenging to love themselves. This might make the process of making friends more challenging. You can help your child love and be kind towards themselves by doing the following:
Invite your child to take note of all the thoughts they think about themselves in one full day (Perhaps choose a day over the weekend so that they do not feel uncomfortable writing their thoughts down at school where a friend can see it). Discuss their thoughts with them at the end of the day and ask them which thoughts were cheerleader thoughts (loving, kind, encouraging) versus Debbie Downer thoughts (discouraging, unkind, unfair, criticising).
Guide them to reframe the Debbie Downer thoughts (without doing it for them) by asking them how they would reframe the criticising thoughts to more positive ones. If they struggle, ask them how they would reframe this if a friend said this about themselves. For example: "I am the worst at Maths" can be changed to: "Maths is not my biggest strength, but I am really good at Science."
Do you live in the Netherlands and does your child need some more support in making friendships? Jump over to my website and have a look at my South African Chameleon Kids Club that will support South African expat kids with building new friendships, along with some other important skills!
Yours in self-love and acceptance,