Moving can be fun and exciting, but one of the harder parts is leaving friends and trying to make new ones. Most adults know this process takes time, but for kids, they can expect it to happen immediately. When we moved a few weeks ago, my younger two seemed content with just playing together, but my 9 year old would stare out the window and be sad, missing her old friends and wishing she had new ones. Unfortunately when we moved, it was summer for us but the kids here had two weeks of school left so there really wasn’t anyone around to play with right away, but with some time, and a few tricks, my kids have already made a bunch of new friends and school isn’t even in session yet! If you are moving with bigger kids, here are some things that I did to help them make new friends, so they could feel more at home sooner.
1. First, talk about it
Before you even begin, explain to your kids that they WILL make friends, it just takes time. Discuss what they look for in a friend and ensure that they are doing the same. My oldest would start to get shy, when she’s not really a shy kid, and I would remind her to be herself and friends will come.
2. Play Outside- a lot!
This is the most important, and most obvious tip- play OUTSIDE! Kids are outside, so to meet them, you have to be out there too!! Ride bikes, scooters, play on the swings, draw with chalk- just be out there so that the neighborhood kids can see that you are there!
3. Meet the neighbors
When you move in, take some time to go around to your neighbors and say hello. Not only is this the friendly thing to do, you can also ask if they have any kids your children’s ages, or ask who does around you.
4. Join clubs, camps, activities
If you can afford it, get your kids signed up for some sports or summer camps (depending on when you move). This will give your kids even more ways to meet other kids, especially ones that are interested in the same things they are.
5. Assist in the introductions
Kids can be shy, not just yours, but the other kids around. If you see some kids playing nearby and your kids are too nervous to go up and introduce themselves, help them. Say “Oh there are some kids, I want to go introduce myself, want to come with me?” Chances are, they will, so now you can go up and say hello and introduce your kids to them. One trick I used was I’d say “Oh hi! My name is Mrs. Thomas, do you know any 9 year old girls that live around here?” and see what they say. They may be that similar age, so know more kids that are, and if you hep “break the ice”, if you will, then the kids can get to know one another more on their own.
6. Bring out the cool toys
Kids love toys, so don’t be afraid to bring them out! If it’s summer and you have some water balloons, or an inflatable pool, water slide or even a cool bikes, bring them out! Kids are always interested in what other kids have, so if you bring them out, those kids may be brave enough to come up and say hi, and see what you’ve got to share.
7. Meet the parents
Once your kids have started making buddies, be sure to introduce yourself to their parents- this way you can all meet and get to know one another too. Not only do you want to know who your kids are playing with for safety concerns, but this is a great way for you to meet other adults!
8. Take walks, explore the playground
Don’t just limit your playing to the front yard, take lots of walks and trips to the local play grounds. You may meet even more kids there, and maybe some mom friends too!
9. Share some treats
Now, this is not a bribe, BUT if you are getting to know some kids, it’s fun to offer them some treats, with their parents permission, of course! I love to bust out the freeze pops for all of the kids to share. Doing this can make your kids feel special for being the one that offered them, and of course, all of the other kids will love them. A few days ago I did this and more and more kids kept coming up and getting some and soon my kids were playing with a dozen kids! It was quite a site to see.
10. Let it happen organically
All in all, you can assist some in setting up situations for your kids to meet other kids, but these friendships need to happen on their own too. Kids need to learn these social skills and meeting new friends is a great way to try them out. So, don’t be afraid to help some, but them be sure to step back and let you kid do the work too, especially if they are big enough.
These are some of the tricks I used to help my kids make new friends once we moved, and they have been pretty successful!