Nothing touches the heartstrings of a parent more than the plaintive cry "nobody likes me" or "I don't have any friends." We wish there were something we could do to insure our child will be, if not the most popular, at least included in the games on the playground. Actually, there is something we can do to increase their acceptance by the group and become more approachable to others.
New research shows that all likeable children behave in certain ways. These skills are not in-born but can be taught by parents, teachers and other caring adults. There is a language of likeability that some children cannot pick up by osmosis, but must learn. Not only does fitting in and having friends feel good, it has numerous other advantages including better grades, healthier bodies, less stress, and more opportunities to learn social skills. Children who feel like they have friends tend to stay in school longer, make wiser decisions, and are generally happier.
Parents: Here are 7 secrets to assisting your child to be more likeable. Teach and model them on a daily basis and you will find your social circle enlarging.
1. Look for opportunities to assist others. Studies show that helpfulness correlates more strongly than any other attribute to being liked. Teach them to be aware of other people's needs and to offer people spontaneously, before they ask for it.
2. Find something that makes you feel special. Encourage your child to find an activity, hobby or interest that they really enjoy. They don't have to excel at it, just enjoy it. Do you enjoy drama, dance or railroads? Join a group of enthusiasts.
3. Say "hello" first, and smile. People who smile are perceived as nice and approachable. Friendly and optimistic people act as a magnet to others. Have you ever gotten mad at someone who smiled or said hi to you?
4. Don't stand out from the crowd. Whether we like it or not, kids are judged by the way they look. Try to help them fit in socially.
5. Don't take it personally. Help your child understand that another person may just be having a bad day and may not be mad or dislike him or her. Teach them that people are really less concerned about us than we would like to think.
6. Watch your body language. Verbal communication is the language of information. Body language is the language of relationships. Appear open, friendly and eager to join in and make friends. Stand up straight and look people in the eye. Respect other people's space by not standing too close.
7. Recognize the difference between friendship and popularity. Friendship is more important and will last a lifetime. Popularity is fleeting and dependent on the group. You really only need one good friend.
© Judy H. Wright, www.ArtichokePress.com
This article has been written by Judy H. Wright, a parent educator and PBS consultant. You will find a full listing of books, tele-classes, and workshops listed at www.ArtichokePress.com. You have permission to use the article providing full credit is given to author. She may be contacted at 406-549-9813 or JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com