How can my kid make friends? – Your questions answered

How can my kid make friends? – Your questions answered 

We receive lots of questions from parents about friendships.

Luckily, with LEGO® Friends, we’ve done a lot of research on building friendships... get it? Building friendships...

Moving swiftly on… Let’s answer some of your most common questions!

What are the most important skills related to building friendships and maintaining relationships? 

Okay, obligatory disclaimer: All friendships are different. But certain skills are key to being a friend, at any age.

Among the most important is communication. Being able to actively listen (like, reeeeally concentrating and engaging) is the cornerstone of most great relationships.

Another is kindness, even when friends do something you don’t like (like taking the final piece of pizza without even ASKING you, like, who does that?).

Communication and kindness are therefore central concepts of the LEGO Friends: The Next Chapter TV series. We often explore how miscommunication causes conflict – and how kindness is the best healer.  

Why is play important in developing friendship-building and social skills for kids? 

Play is scientifically proven to have a transformative impact on kids’ development.

Social skills for kids are boosted during play as they learn to share and co-operate creatively.

Younger children often cannot effectively communicate until they’re older. But in the safe space of play, those dialogues become a lot easier, helping to grow their friendships.

Put simply, the more they play, the better they get at things like empathy and conflict resolution. 

How can I encourage my child to initiate interactions with peers? 

There’s plenty you can do in the time you spend with your kids to help them be more social on their own.

The best way is to simply lead by example. Because kids tend to do what we do, not what we say.

Instead of telling your kid to, for example, maintain eye contact and ask more questions, or criticizing their excess screen time, make a note of practicing these social skills yourself.

Pair this with positive reinforcement when they perform these social skills, rather than getting upset at them for not doing so.

(For other activities, games and tricks, check out our article on social skill-boosting activities.)

Stage 0: Momentary Playmates

  • Approximate age: 3-6
  • Children’s friends are usually conveniently nearby.
  • Friendships focus on immediate fun.
  • Little expectation of a lasting relationship.
  • Can be friends one day and ‘not’ the next. 

Stage 1: One-Way Assistance 

  • Approximate age: 4-9
  • Friendships go beyond immediate, fun activities.
  • Kids recognize friends doing nice things for them, but don’t usually consider what they can contribute to a friendship. 

Stage 2: Two-Way Cooperation 

  • Approximate age: 7-12
  • Friendships become more reciprocal.
  • Kids begin considering friends’ perspectives.
  • Very focused on fairness. Friendships can disintegrate if friends don’t reciprocate displays of kindness. 

Stage 3: Intimate, Mutually Shared Relationships 

  • Approximate age: 8-15
  • Children help each other out, without ‘keeping score’.
  • Confide feelings they don’t share with others.
  • ‘Best friends’ are made, doing everything together. Can feel betrayed if one does something with another friend…

Stage 4: Mature Friendship 

  • Approximate age: 12-adulthood
  • Friendships become less possessive, emphasizing trust and emotional closeness.
  • Can remain close despite physical separation. 

Are there strategies to help my child handle rejection or navigate conflicts with friends?  

Dealing with rejection is a valuable life skill, and not something to avoid. 

While we hate seeing our kids experience pain, we need to be careful to not brush off their feelings to try and make them feel better, quicker.

Allow them to identify their feelings in a calm, supportive and empathetic environment.

Openness is the best approach (as usual…). When your child experiences rejection, ask them how they’re feeling and actively listen. 

Consider sharing your own experiences of rejection in the past, while not pulling focus. This may help show them that conflict is a common part of life, make them feel less alone and illuminate a pathway to feeling better.

Regarding friendship conflicts, young kids can struggle to understand other sides of a story. Encourage them to think about how the other person might be feeling. It can help explain misunderstandings to your child, making them more empathetic. 

Should I intervene if I notice my child having difficulty with certain friendships? 

Crucially, if your child is being bullied or in a similar serious situation, you should contact their school.

But for common friendship issues, it might be better to find ways to support your child without taking over. Always aim to empower kids with the skills needed to navigate their own friendships, rather than handling their friendships for them.

Ask them to identify positive friendships and what they like about them. It could help recontextualize their more challenging relationships.

If your child is acting jealously regarding the behavior of their friends, this can be a good time to discuss boundaries and what we can reasonably expect of friends – and what they should expect of us.  

What can I do if my child is shy or anxious in social situations? 

Firstly, let them know that it’s okay to feel shy or anxious. Aim for positive reinforcement over criticism, particularly if they’re brave enough to identify feelings of anxiety by themselves. Remind them that a lot of grown-ups struggle with that!

Then come up with a game plan together. Discuss goals for their social situations – like having a conversation with a child they don’t know or avoiding getting upset at a party. Think of rewards to give to them as motivation.

You can ask them who their best friends at school are and arrange low-key playdates at your house or – when your child feels more comfortable – at their friends’ house.

Starting out small can be a good way to help them open up in social situations.

Naturally, if your child shows signs of severe anxiety impacting their daily life, consider seeking professional help.

How can I teach empathy, diversity and inclusivity in my children’s friendships? 

We’ve already discussed how asking your child to consider how their friends feel – particularly after conflict – can encourage them to be more empathetic.

Regarding diversity and inclusivity, consider the cultural input they receive. Kids relate to characters in their favorite shows, films, books or toys. It’s why we try to be as inclusive as possible in our themes – like the new LEGO Friends seasons, which star characters from a wide range of backgrounds. It shows kids how diversity is a strength.

Additionally, encourage your children to interact in events, celebrations, festivals or even sports teams that feature people from different backgrounds.

As always, kids learn through observation. So the best way to encourage empathy, diversity and inclusivity in your children, is if you are a champion of those principles.

The good news is that if you’re asking these types of questions, you almost certainly are.

Go you.