If you have recently moved to a new country or even to a new town, chances are your life is somewhat chaotic right now. Moving house, whether it’s to a new city or a complete continental shift, is always a manic time – especially if you have children.
With so many things to plan, check and double-check, and prepare for – there are a few key things that may slip your mind. Things like finding a new park for the dogs, a dry cleaner that understands your clothing, and friends for your children tend to take a backseat when you first start getting settled.
Once you’ve ticked those things off your to-do list, you can focus on helping your children settle into their new home and help them find a friend or two. Friendships are an essential part of childhood, and children with friends are generally better adjusted, kinder, and more confident.
Below are five ways to help your kids make friends in a new town:
Social media will be your best friend when it comes to finding groups with children who are the same age as yours. Do a search in your new neighborhood and check school or church clubs, there are often fantastic group activities for kids of all ages.
If you can, volunteer with a few of the clubs that interest your children, that will make them feel more comfortable and will provide a meeting point for other parents.
Practice saying hello
If your kids are anxious or shy, encourage them to be more social by practicing saying hello. Encourage your child to say hello when they meet someone new and ask for their name.
Practicing social skills in a safe environment will help your child to blossom in a social setting. Rehearsing what to say and how to approach another child will help teach your child social cues and social practices that are age appropriate.
Throw a party
Invite neighborhood and school kids to a party at your new house. Draw up fun invitations with your kids and accompany them around the area to deliver them in person.
Order snack platters, hire commercial inflatables to encourage participation, and decorate your backyard with brightly-colored banners and balloons. Most children love a fun party so your kids will make new friends in no time!
Go to the park
Most areas have beautiful parks for children to run around and play in. Ask your new neighbors (the ones with kids) for advice on where the safest and best park is.
Pack a picnic and load up the bicycles and group-activity toys, and head out for a magical day adventure in your new area. Some parks even allow the dogs to come too but check ahead first – so you don’t waste a trip.
Arrange a play date
Some children do better with one-on-one interactions as opposed to group settings. If your child is still coming out of their shell, help them to do that comfortably by arranging a play date with a new school friend.
Host a play date at your house and pick an activity that is more participation-orientated, that way it will require less conversation and your child won’t feel too overwhelmed. That will allow your child to focus on having fun and not worry about what to say or how to say it.
Children take time to adjust to change, but they are far more resilient than most parents realize. With a little encouragement and some planning on your part, your kids will be making new friends before you know it.