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How To Help Your Child Develop Friendships

5. Build resilience in your child 

Resilience is the happy knack of being able to bungee jump through the pitfalls of life. When tough times come, resilience helps you to rise above adversity and hardship. Resilience is developed in children and adolescents when they have:

How To Help Your Child Develop Friendships

  • a sense of being loved by their family, 
  • a diverse group of friends, and 
  • an adult outside their family who likes them.
Being loved by their family
You can help your child to be resilient by always making it clear that you love him (even if you are also making it very clear that you don't like the way he is behaving at the moment).
One of the ways of freely expressing love for a bright child is not to give in to the extent that you end up feeling used. Parents who give in too much end up feeling resentful, and feeling used and resentful is corrosive to goodwill in families. If you are feeling this way, stop! Give yourself a break. Be less helpful for a time.
Being a sleep-deprived, stressed-out human being does no one any favors. Parenting bright kids will test the reserves of even the strongest person. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, and by looking after yourself, you can give your child what he or she needs as well as ensuring you have the energy to keep going.
The most powerful factor in your child's path towards a great life is his relationship with you. Having a positive, strong bond with you is the top priority. So if either of you is behaving in ways that threaten the strength of that relationship, it is time to work out a different approach.

Seven messages for parents who do too much
  1. Remember: one day my child may need to cope without me.
  2. Children learn competence and confidence by tackling some things on their own.
  3. There are some situations in which my child can cope without my help. 
  4. Help is not always helpful. Sometimes it robs people of the opportunity to work out their own way of doing things. 
  5. The toughest trees grow in the windiest conditions. Making everything easy for your child won't help him or her cope with hardship. 
  6. Rarely or never do anything for a child that he or she can do for him- or herself. 
  7. Things that are scarce are more valued. While I'm not suggesting you distance yourself from your child, I am suggesting that if you are feeling undervalued or used, make your assistance scarcer. 
Having a diverse group of friends
The second resilience factor is friendships. Always look around for opportunities to broaden your child's social friendships. Ideally, try to help your child to develop some friends in school and some out of school. Youth groups, extended family, activity clubs, YMCA/YWCA, church groups, Scouts, camps, and community service organizations all provide great ways of doing this.

It often seems that the bright children who get into big trouble are those who whittle their friendships down to a few similarly inclined young people. Keep them mixing with a range of people.

Some bright children are also loners. While there is nothing wrong with being a loner, getting practice at interacting with a range of people is a good skill for all children to develop. This is particularly true for bright children, who often have only one or two ways of being with people.

An adult outside the family
Raising children is a tricky business. Raising forceful children is a tricky and tiring business. Having an adult outside your family who you can trust to form a positive relationship with your child can make an incredible difference in his life. This other adult shouldn't be involved in disciplining or sorting out problems necessarily, but rather should be someone who your child can go to when he feels unable to go to you. To find out more, you can check out How To Help Your Child Develop Friendships.