Developing Social Skills
For some children, friendship skills seem to come naturally, while for others it takes more effort. Dr. Lynne Kenney Markan offers these steps to help your child navigate the sometimes rough and rocky road of childhood friendship:

Teach children to identify positive and negative friendship behaviors. Discuss with your child what makes a good friend. Specific questions may include: Does the friend take turns choosing activities? Does the friend include others or is she bossy or territorial? Is the friend kind, thoughtful, friendly? Is the friendship fair and equal, or does one friend give more than the other? Does the friend show he is truly interested in your child? Your child will quickly learn to notice which friends use positive friendship skills and which tease, demean or control other children.

Help children choose friends based on similarity, not proximity. Help your child choose friendships rather than just “fall into them.” Evaluate whether a certain friendship is right: Do the children share similar interests? Does the friendship meet the needs of both friends? Although friends are often those who in close proximity, your child needn't be best friends with the child next door if she isn’t a nice person.

Teach children to stand up for themselves in difficult social situations. Teach your child how to handle teasing, peer pressure, bossy friends, friends who gossip or leave others out, etc. One way to practice managing these situations is through role play.  Have fun by being extreme or silly.