by Olivia Krumholz. Olivia is earning a BA in special education and psychology at Miami University.
1. Use every interaction as a learning opportunity
Just like any other skill, students need to practice social interactions, but the key to success is to offer opportunity in low-risk situations. Once the interaction is over, privately and casually explain to the child what they can do better next time to better interact with people. Be sure to praise what was done well. These manners will help students make friends by empowering them to be a partner. Even young children will understand they have control and with repeated success, they will embrace it.
2. Practice good listening
Empower students by listening to how they feel about their peers. Build in a few minutes to talk. Do your best to have this time be consistent so students can feel secure that they have your undivided attention. Rather than evaluating from your perspective, learn to view the situation from the child’s eyes.
3. Help students make diverse friendships
Everyone has a rough day at school every once in awhile, and having friends that do not go to students school is a great way from helping students feel like “nobody likes them.” Encourage parents to have their child participating in sports, arts, and other after school activities. Extra curricular activities help students make friends with people that share their interests that they might not have otherwise met.
4. Ask the right questions
Avoid the simple, “How was your day” “Fine” conversation. Ask questions such as, “What was the best part of your day? What is something you did today that you didn’t like? What is something you learned about yourself today? What did you do at recess? Ask questions to drive the conversation.
5. Keep your own emotions out of the situation
If a student feels upset because they felt left out, it is easy for adults to match their emotions and become upset, too. Instead, remain calm and encourage students also to stay calm. Keeping our emotions in check reminds our students this is a small piece of a big picture and although cliche, it gets better.
6. Be a good role model
Be especially mindful of your behavior when you are around students. Be kind to strangers, avoid excessive complaining, listen, give and take constructive criticism gracefully. Hold the door open, say please and thank you. Remember, students want to be just like you; showing them how to behave is far more effective than telling.
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