Much of a child’s anxiety about lunchtime relates to friendship – where are my friends/have I got any friends/how do I make friends.
While schools are working hard to counter bullying, we can help by keeping the conversation flowing at home with regards to relationships. And of prime importance, we can help teach our kids empathy. While some children are happy with individual pursuits, for others loneliness can be crippling. As parents, we can encourage our children to consider what having no friends or being left out of a game feels like so they can then relate to others in that position and become part of the solution.
Potential conversation starters in this regard include:
- Did everyone have someone to play with today?
- What games are popular at school at the moment?
- Does everyone join in?
- What happens if the game has already started and someone asks to join in?
Playground icebreakers can be awkward, especially if you are the new kid or perhaps your only friend is away that day.
“Can I play?” – three simple words that can be surprisingly difficult to say out loud. Some practice might help.
Friendly responses can be practised too:
“Sure, you can play!”
It’s not always that simple though. Some more creative thinking may be required:
“The teams for this game are full but let’s see if we can form another team.”
Idealistic perhaps, but absolutely worth a try when inclusion is on the line.
The topic of making friends is huge, but with regards to lunchtime stress, the issue really boils down to having something to do and, ideally, someone to do it with. When we chat about activity options with our kids, while gently reminding (and re-reminding!) them about the importance of looking after others, we’re laying a foundation upon which our kids can build social skills – in ways that reflect their unique personalities.