As kids enter the junior high grades, it becomes increasingly important that they bond with a peer group. In the younger grades, kids tend to befriend and seem to be able to adapt to many others. As kids get older, their friendships deepen. They tend to prefer the attention and companionship of one or two very close friends to the more superficial friendships of five or six.
Always greet others with a smile. One of the best things kids can do is to be friendly. There is an old saying that says, “To have a friend, you must first BE a friend.” This just means that you get back what you put out. If kids are friendly to others, many will return the kindness and some good friendships may begin from these introductions. This does not mean that all kids will like them. It will help them to radiate positive behaviors toward others, which will come back to them over time.
Talk to old friends. Connect with friends kids knew in younger grades for starters will give them some common ground and help them not to feel so alone when school starts. This is especially helpful for shyer kids. With time, they can also gravitate to new friends and relationships.
Find Common Interests
It is important for kids to bond with kids with whom they have things in common. This can often be achieved by joining clubs or school organizations that allow them to associate with kids who share their interests.
Engage Outside of Class
Invite friends to afterschool events or to your house. Good friendships require more than just seeing each other at school. Encourage your child to invite their friends over after school to play outside or work on homework together. This can create a real connection with others and help develop skills about sharing and caring that will last a lifetime.
Make Use of Technology
Use technology to make connections with kids you would like to get to know better. Social media has a downside but it can also be a great tool to keep people closer. Emails and text messages can also keep the lines of communication open between kids after school hours. Parents should closely monitor this, but it is a great way for kids to keep in touch after school is out.
Teachers Can Help
If your child has trouble-making friends in junior high, talk to your child’s teacher. Often they can take the extra time to observe children interacting with others and introducing them to other kids. This is especially helpful if your child is new to the school. This helps kids feel less isolated and encourages interaction between kids.
A Transition Age
One thing to remember about the junior high years is that it is a transition age. Kids are expected to fall quickly in line with all sorts of new rules and expectations. They have new teachers, a new building and a new environment to adjust to. They are also the youngest kids in the school, when they were the oldest in their building the year before. It takes an adjustment period to get used to these changes. With parents and teachers working together, this change can be smoother.
The junior high years are challenging in many ways. Students are not little kids anymore, but they are not yet adults, either. They have some important challenges facing them regarding their future, relationships and life. The best way parents can help is to let children know they are there and will help anyway they can.
Developing good friendships is one of the most important skills kids learn in life. These important skills begin at an early age. It is important that they have positive experiences. You can help by being there for your child and teaching them the meaning of real friendship.
This post is part of the series: Social Skills for Middle School Students
How do you help your middle school child learn to make friends and get along with their teachers? Tips for parents on helping their child succeed in school and in life.