You want her to be happy, and you want others to appreciate her special qualities. If making friends is difficult for your child, there are ways you can help:

• Communicate. Encourage your child to discuss her feelings about friendships. Tell her you will help.

• Ask key questions. For example: Who would you like to be friends with? Why? What’s the hardest part of making a new friend?

• Observe your child. Notice how she relates with other children. Look for problems she might be having.

• Talk with teachers. If your child is in preschool, ask teachers how she behaves there. Also, see if they can help promote friendships.

• Make a plan. Once you’ve identified some problems, gently mention them to your child. Discuss how you can solve them together.

• Be positive. Explain that your child’s strengths, such as her sense of humor, can help her make friends. This will also build her confidence.

• Teach skills. She should know how to introduce herself or ask to join in a game. Physical skills that help with play (such as skipping) can also help.

• Get involved. Help your child develop friendships by inviting other children over and planning outings.

• Start slowly. Begin by focusing on one friendship. Plan short, structured activities for them. Later, play dates can be longer.

• Ask for help. Talk with a professional if your child’s social skills don’t improve or if they’re hurt by a serious behavioral problem.

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