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5 tips parents can give their kids to make new friends

23 May 2018

Regardless of whether you’re outgoing or shy, meeting new people can be scary. Kids, especially in their teenage years, can tend to hang out with the same crowd because it feels comfortable and familiar, and helps them avoid the 'hassle' of meeting new people.

But what if they're joining a new team, going to camp, or their situation changes and they need to make new friends either at school or in the neighbourhood? Whatever the reason, it can be a stressful time, which is completely understandable.

Meeting new people is something everyone goes through, so it’s always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make it all a bit easier. Here are 5 tips to making new friends to share with your child, in no particular order.

1. Listen and ask questions

Listening to others shows that you care about what someone is saying and are interested in them. Make eye contact while they are speaking and follow up with a couple of questions. If all goes well, the conversation will flow nicely. If not, it's okay to try again.

2. Laugh and smile

Smiling puts people at ease. When you smile, other kids feel like you're friendly and easy to talk to. Don’t forget: they might be feeling just as nervous about making friends as you do, so when you smile it helps them to feel more comfortable. Plus, laughing is the best medicine you can give your body. It makes you less tense and helps you loosen up and feel more relaxed in potentially stressful situations, such as when meeting new people.

3. Give a compliment

Have you ever received a compliment? Feels good, right? Giving a compliment to someone naturally gives them an ego boost and they appreciate what you have to say. Try going up to someone and complimenting them on their shoes or a new haircut. This approach works as a great conversation starter, and you can keep the dialogue flowing by following up with some questions.

4. Look up from your phone

If you’re constantly gazing at your phone and distracted by text messages or social media, it can make people think that you’re unavailable and not interested in talking to them. Take a break, look up and spend a little time getting to know the people around you.

5. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’

You can't help but meet people when you join a team or a club. Having common ground with others immediately gives you something to talk about. You're bound to find people who are interested in some of the same things as you, no matter what they may be. Try to make sure your child isn’t too disappointed if their decision to meet new people doesn’t result in heaps of new friends straight away. Making a network of friends is quite a slow process, but if they’re patient, they’ll hopefully end up with a great crew of people around them.

Reach out logo

ReachOut is Australia's leading online health website for young people and their parents. Working with registered counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals ReachOut provides online self-help tools that are used by over 1.5 million Australians each year. A valuable resource for many parents, teens and young adults.

If your child, or anyone you know is having issues with self-esteem, confidence or mental or physical health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.

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