A warm welcome to those of you who are visiting after reading my devotion entitled, "Making the Most of Loneliness." If you're like me, you feel every ounce of your child's pain. Sometimes it's hard for us to help our children because of that.
I can still remember the physical pain of loneliness when I moved 2000 miles away from all my friends and family. I definitely took friendships for granted after living in the same city all my life. I didn't realize how hard it was to find compatible friendships. But I'm a problem solver by nature, so it didn't take long for me to figure out ways to connect with others.
But our children don't often have those skills. And most children are bound up in playground hierarchies that make it even more difficult to navigate friendships. Once children are too old for their moms to set play dates, what are the options for helping?
There are things parents can do. I'm happy to share some of these tips today. If you like my practical approach to helping kids overcome issues, I hope you'll consider getting my book, "When Your Child is Hurting," available through Proverbs 31 Ministries, or on Amazon.
Here are just a few ideas to help your child deal with loneliness and make friends:
1. Pray with, and for, your child for God to bring a friend. This can be a faith-builder when children see God answer their prayers.
2. Work on conversation skills. Discuss the importance of being a good listener, and asking open-ended, follow-up questions. Role play how to ask questions, like:
What did you do this weekend?
What’s your favorite sport to play? Why?
What do you like best about school?
If you could give away $1000, what would you do with it?
If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be and why?
3. Be an inviter. Help your child plan a special event, and then encourage him or her to invite a friend. This can be done very easily and affordably. For instance, you could:
Bake and decorate Christmas cookies
Make a model airplane
Make home-made gift tags from used greeting cards
Play a game of Frisbee golf
Take a hike and have a picnic
Attend a church event
4. Invest in your child's interests. Some of my best friends have developed out of common interests. But finding and developing your child's interests is a learning process. It’s best to ease into new experiences. For example, take classes through your city recreation department before you invest $500 in sports equipment your child might not like in a month. When you do find something your child loves, then invest in that interest. Whether it's scouts, athletics, arts, music or dance, your child will immediately have a connection with other children in her class or team.
5. Introduce your child to Jesus as his best-friend. I wrote this in my devotion, but it bears repeating. Does your child have a Bible she can read? If not, this is a perfect time to buy one. Then your child can read for herself about our God who never leaves us alone, who is always near and who longs to be our friend. Learning to turn to the Bible is difficult times will be a source of life-long comfort.
I pray these ideas have sparked more for you. We can make a difference in our children's lives, and help prepare them for the future. Because there will always be times of loneliness.
In His Love,