How to connect and make friends

Navigating the complex and exciting journey of making friends can be quite an adventure for many children, it can be a bit like discovering a new playground: it’s a mixture of excitement, filled with the thrill of spontaneous encounters and learning on the go – but there can be the occasional scraped knee along the way where things don’t quite go as planned.

Have you ever noticed your child facing challenges in forming friendships at school and felt the urge to step in and assist? The British International School Abu Dhabi counselling and wellbeing experts give some insights to really understand the best ways we can help children master the art of friendship.

Get them to buddy up!

Many schools use a buddy system because linking children who have similar interests — whether that’s painting, coding, or a dedication to dodgeball — can jumpstart beautiful friendships. It’s also a great way to help them understand the power of empathy and inclusion.

We know that great friends can also come from unexpected places. Maybe your child prefers to be a Pokémon master one year and then a soccer star the next, so try to get them to mingle with others so they can figure out how their interests gel with others. This is a great way to nudge them out of their comfort zones, sparking growth and maybe even a few unexpected friendships. Perhaps their best friend is not in their immediate class circle.

Say “yes!” to school socials

Making friends is often hardest when a student is new, particularly for those globe-trotting families who come from a different culture and speak a different language. Have your child join schools events—or find events you can attend as a family—whether its playground meetups, bake sales, book fairs, or having them join after-school extracurriculars. Think of it as laying down the social soil where friendships can sprout and grow. But remember: just like gardening, green shoots take time.

Online pals: the digital dilemma

In the era of digitalisation, the rules of the playground extend into cyberspace. It’s inevitable that children will make friends online, so be sure to open up the conversation about how they can do this safely and in trusted digital spaces. It’s about guiding them, not guarding them 24/7. Sometimes it can be best to watch from the sidelines, but you should keep an eye on their social escapades and be there when they need you. Kids are naturally resilient explorers of the social jungle. Encourage their adventures in friendship without micromanaging their every move.

Quality over quantity

When it comes to friendships, it’s the meaningful connections that matter most, not your overall friend count. Help children learn to treasure those few precious pals who truly get them. And remind them that being a bit shy or introverted doesn’t mean they’re flying solo. Let them know it’s perfectly okay to have a smaller circle of friends; what matters most is the quality of these connections, not the quantity.

Making friends can be thrilling, unpredictable, and filled with learning curves, both for your child and for you as you help guide them through the big playground of life. Want to know more about our approach to helping kids love coming to school?

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The British International School Abu Dhabi

The British International School Abu Dhabi

The British International School Abu Dhabi offers a welcoming family community with the highest quality learning opportunities as part of our Global Campus. At The British International School Abu Dhabi, your child will grow as a confident, caring individual, whilst developing the skills and attitudes required to be successful in our constantly evolving international world.

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