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7 Ideas to Help Your Kids Make New Friends This School Year

7 Ideas to Help Your Kids Make New Friends This School Year

make new friends this school year

With the conclusion of summer break comes the “reset” button that throws children headfirst into the new school year. Which means new teachers, classes, locker combinations, peers, and difficulties. Moving to a new school magnifies these challenges along with learning to make new friends. Even kids who aren’t moving to a school may find themselves searching for a new friend group or in a class where they don’t know many of their classmates.

Making new friends while starting a new school year may seem stressful, but with the right amount of forethought and planning, your child will be able to breeze right into new friends and a great school year. We can’t guarantee our kids’ social success, but we can provide them with the resources, self-assurance, and creative thinking they need to succeed. 

Here are ways to held your child make new friends this school year. 

Participate in a group or club

Making new acquaintances at school might be challenging for some students, we see you introverts. A good way to ensure your child enjoys school and makes friends easily is to sign them up for a class or extracurricular activity they’re interested in. 

Small-group classes in physically demanding activities like soccer, cooking, or martial arts are excellent settings for making new friends. Other kids may get excited about socializing with their classmates by taking lessons like ballet or dance, which fosters creativity. 

Invite Children to Your Home

Your kid will have a lot easier time interacting with other children if you have a little party or get-together. This group of children may be from your school or neighborhood. This is one of the simplest ways to encourage sociability in your child. Shy or introverted children may be more comfortable in your own home. This familiar setting helps them to open up to new friends. The smaller setting removes distractions and stress for both your child and their friend.

Help them develop effective communication skills

You may help your kid become more social by teaching them important interpersonal skills.

Examples of skills:

  • Help your children learn to voice their thoughts in a manner that builds bridges rather than burns them.
  • Teach them to see the value each child in their class brings to the group.
  • Teach them to pay attention while hearing.
  • Teach them to respect other people’s experiences.

Make new friends at kid-friendly activities and playgrounds

Making friends at school might be difficult for some children, but it may be less of a challenge in a less structured environment like a playground or children’s museum. Your child is more likely to make friends with other kids who share their interests if you take them to activities that cater to their passions. Playgrounds, indoor play areas, and public pools are great places to meet other kids. Getting out and meeting new kids to connect with may also be accomplished by attending children’s activities hosted by libraries, churches, and other community organizations.

Set an example for healthy dialogue about feelings at home.

To ensure your kid develops healthy social skills, you can start by setting a good example at home. The greatest way to help a kid develop socially and emotionally is to model such traits yourself at home. No parent is perfect, but setting a good example with your family in terms of communication and caring can go a long way.

Don’t micromanage their social life.

Managing your child’s social life requires a balance. Parents must give their children many chances to interact with others to build friendships and social skills. When they are young, parents plan play dates, enroll children in schools, and transport them. Parents should watch their children during a playdate, but they shouldn’t exert too much control. Let your children decide what to play and how to manage disagreements. You’ll be amazed at your child’s creativity.

Maintain fair expectations

Every parent wants a happy, well-adjusted kid, but you must set fair expectations. Extraverted and outgoing parents naturally desire the same for their children. Some kids aren’t social butterflies. A quiet, introverted child may prefer a small group of close friends to a big one and a small playdate to a large party. 

When it comes to children socializing and making new friends, there is no one-size-fits-all solution; but with your support and encouragement, your child may just find their next friend is sitting right in their new classroom.

If you think your child’s struggles to make new friends this school year stem from anxiety or other mental or behavioral health concerns, request an appointment with one of our counselors.

4 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health This Summer

Support Your Child's Mental Health This Summer

Many kids breathe a sigh of relief when the last bell rings on the final day of school. But for those who struggle with mental health disorders, that bell could signal a wave of new anxiety and depression. Many of these children thrive on the routine of the school year. The more relaxed days of summer throw them for a loop. Even children who don’t typically struggle with mental health may experience the summer blues from being separated from their friends. Thankfully, parents can help. Here’s a look at how to support your child’s mental health during this summer break. 

Keep a Daily Routine

Sure, you can adjust their school sleep routine to fit summer activities, but set a bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it. All children thrive on routine, but it’s especially important for kids struggling with their mental health. Have them follow their usual morning routine of getting dressed for the day, showering or scrubbing faces, and brushing teeth. They might even perhaps knock out a morning chore or two after breakfast. One idea for a daily morning chore is to straighten up their room if they don’t do it before bedtime at night. They could also clean up the kitchen after breakfast or load the dishwasher. 

Another way to support your child’s mental health this summer is to add exercise or activity to their daily routine. It doesn’t have to be something difficult or boring. It can be a walk with the dogs around the neighborhood, a few laps around the pool, a fun online family yoga video, or a round of Just Dance together on the Nintendo Switch. Getting your kids moving each morning helps them establish an exercise routine and it will help their day go better. Exercise is proven to improve mental health in people of all ages.

Find Fun Activities/Camps

You don’t have to send your child off to sleepover camp if that’s not their thing. Most communities offer fun day camps focused on various interests. From nature camps to art camps to sports camps, you’ll discover something that fits your children’s interests. 

The entire calendar doesn’t need to be filled with camps in order for you to support your child’s mental health this summer. You can plan plenty of fun, and often free, activities at home or around your town. Pinterest is filled with fun and easy art and craft projects, as well as other great educational yet entertaining activities. Some of our favorites include kid-friendly cooking ideas and summer reading lists for all age groups, including you! Your kids will be encouraged to read more when they see you reading. Make weekly or biweekly trips to the library a must during the summer and continue this routine throughout the school year. Watch how it makes a positive difference in your children’s reading!

Other fun free or inexpensive activities include trips to the local parks with splash pads! Make an afternoon of it by packing a picnic and maybe your summer reading book along with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a towel so you feel free to stay awhile. Most parks provide shaded seating areas near the splash pads for parents to keep a close eye on their kiddos. You can also buy an inexpensive backyard sprinkler, fire up the grill, and enjoy a fun family cookout.  If you have older kids or teens, consider going kayaking for a day on the old Tombigbee River in Amory or at Bear Creek near Tishomingo State Park. Speaking of Tishomingo State Park, this state park is one of the most beautiful in Mississippi and offers gorgeous hiking and camping opportunities. 

Don’t forget to plan for the rainy days and nights when everyone just wants to stay in. Family game nights and movie nights are the perfect way to bond with your kids and get to know their interests. 

Let There Be Balance

Kids with anxiety and depression need plenty of routines and things to keep them busy. But many of them also find relief in the quiet. Downtime is just as important as regular activities. It’s okay if your preteen or teen needs to take a breather in their room alone after a day or week of activities. Don’t overwhelm their schedule and don’t get upset when they tell you they want to skip family movie night to hang out in their room and watch TikTok. Check on them to be sure they aren’t in a depressive or anxious state, but give them their space otherwise. That’s their way of letting you know they just need some time to themselves to rest and recharge. 

Pay Attention to Changes in Behavior, Routine, and Friend Groups

The summer is a great time for kids to make new friends. But kids who are at risk for mental health struggles sometimes seek out the wrong new crowd. This often comes simply in looking for acceptance among peers and finding it with a group of kids that may not have the same values as you have taught your children. Keep up with what your preteens and teens are doing when they are out with friends or at a summer activity. Be sure to meet their new acquaintances. Let them know you are involved in your child’s social life (in a friendly way.) If you’re unsure about your child’s new friends, invite them to out for pizza or another activity so you can get to know them. 

We mentioned giving your child breathing room for breaks and not to be alarmed if they occasionally want to retreat to their room over spending time with the family. This is normal. But if your child suddenly wants to spend all of their time in their room alone, it’s time to look further into what’s happening. This could be especially concerning if your child never appears to talk to or hang out with friends. It’s one sign that your child could be struggling with their mental health. 

Does your child struggle with anxiety or depression and you think they could benefit from behavioral health counseling? You can get them the help they need right here at Mantachie Rural Health Care. Click here to request an appointment now.

What You Need to Know About Children’s Mental Health

Children’s mental health affects all aspects of their lives including their physical health, school success, and success at work and in society. However, out of the estimated 15 million children who could be diagnosed with a mental disorder, only 7 percent will receive the professional services they need. One way to increase this number and get more children the appropriate care is through education about children’s mental health disorders. 

Factors Affecting Children’s Mental Health

Several risk factors can affect a child’s mental health. Some children are born with genetic and biological factors which increase their risks for mental health disorders. Environmental factors like a child’s home life and where they live can also put them at a greater risk. Relationships with family members, teachers, fellow classmates, and other important people in a child’s life affects their mental health as well. 

Most Common Types of Children’s Mental Health Disorders

Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders affecting children helps parents to get their child the help they need. The following conditions are the most common children’s mental health disorders diagnosed today. 

  • Anxiety
    • Signs of anxiety include being afraid when away from parents and extreme fear of specific situations.
    • Social anxiety in school and fear of the future or of bad things happening are also common symptoms. 
    • Children with anxiety may suffer from repeated panic disorder episodes with symptoms including but not limited to sudden, unexpected, extreme fear, trouble breathing, pounding heart, and/or dizziness, shakiness, or sweating. 
  • Depression
    • Symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable. Other signs are:
    • Changes in sleeping or eating habits.
    • Changes in energy, from being tired or sluggish to tense or restless.
    • Inability to focus or concentrate.
    • Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty.
    • Infliction of self-injury or self-destruction.
  • ADHD
    • Signs of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) such as a lack of focus and forgetting things easily are also accompanied by other symptoms such as:
    • Being prone to daydreaming often.
    • Impulsiveness
    • Fidgeting and/or talking too much
    • Trouble getting along with others
    • Making careless mistakes
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    • OCD consists of having unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again causing stress or anxiety. 
    • Other obvious signs include having to think or do something over and over again or perform a ritual following certain rules to stop obsessive thoughts. 
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
    • Children who act out so seriously that their behavior causes problems at home, school, or with peers may be diagnosed with ODD.
    • Behaviors of ODD include often being angry or easily losing one’s temper, arguing with adults or refusing to comply with rules set by authority figures, and being resentful or spiteful.
    • Children with ODD may also be easily annoyed by others or attempt to annoy others themselves, and they may also blame others for their mistakes or misbehaviors. 
  • Conduct Disorder
    • Conduct disorder occurs when a child persistently shows a pattern of aggression towards others and violates rules and social norms at home, school, and among peers.
    • Children with conduct disorder may display behaviors such as running away from home, staying out past curfew, skipping school, lying, causing damage to other people’s property, and being aggressive toward others. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Some children recover quickly from trauma while others suffer long-term effects with a condition known as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
    • Signs of PTSD include reliving the traumatic event over and over again, having nightmares or difficulty sleeping, and becoming upset over memories of the event.
    • Other symptoms may also occur such as intense, ongoing sadness, irritability, angry outbursts, and being easily startled. 
    • Children with PTSD may also become withdrawn or lack positive emotions. 

If you believe your child is suffering from a mental health disorder Mantachie Rural Healthcare can help. Dial 662-282-4226 to request an appointment with our behavior health specialist. 


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