Think about that one friend of yours—the one you’ve known forever, who remembers your goofiest fashion moments, who’s cheered you on through every adventure (and, okay, a few misadventures), who you can go without seeing for months and pick right back up as if no time has passed at all. There’s no question you want your daughter to have the same kind of amazing friendships in her life, so do her a solid and steer her in the right social direction.
Show Her the Fun of Friendship
Your daughter probably knows several of your friends, so try telling her about how you met, whether it was in line at the grocery store or at school when you were younger. Understanding that you had to go through the whole getting-to-know-you process will give her more confidence in her own social skills—and get her excited about all the opportunities to make new friends.
Play Your Part
If your daughter is a bit shy, she might need a few hints of what to say when she meets someone new. “Come up with real-life situations she might be confronted with,” suggests Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “If they are in the lunch line together, how can she start a conversation?” Remember that the ice breakers you might use in your life (“That was a great presentation—want to grab lunch sometime?”) don’t necessarily translate to the swing-set crew! Asking about pets, commenting on the characters on the other girl’s shirt (“I like giraffes, too!”), or even a simple, “Want to play?” can open the door to new friendships.
Get Her Out There
Of course your daughter will meet other kids at school, but don’t limit her to just that group of little ones. Try signing her up for activities at the library, for the neighborhood soccer team, or finding a local Girl Scouts troop for her to join. “Introduce her to a host of different activities,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Not only is it a great way to try new things, but it can help your daughter form friendships with children who share her interests.”
Make it Easy for Her
Believe it or not, your behavior can have a big impact on your daughter’s budding social life. By being a good listener and supporter to the friends in your life (and explaining why those are great qualities in a friend), she’ll be set up to be a superstar buddy. And finally? Try to get to playdates, troop meetings, and other activities on time. Yes, traffic is bad. Yes, you had to finish that one email before you could get out the door. But when you’re late to a social activity, your daughter might miss out on introductions and feel uncomfortable reaching out on her own.