Making friends at a new school

August 30, 2010 3:16:47 AM PDT
The Guerriero Family has three kids going into three new schools.

"Victoria is moving on to high school; Frank is going on to middle school. And that's why this was a good time for us to move," Terese Guerriero said.

Terese is relocating her New Jersey family from Edgewood to Westfield to be closer to her husband's job.

The house is pretty much packed up, but there are some things the kids can't take with them, like their friends.

Nine-year-old Nick knows he'll make friend fast in his baseball league.

But, the classroom might take a little longer.

"It'll be hard at first to try to find a new friend, but once you find the kid that likes you and you like them, you can find more friends quicker than ever," said 4th grader, Nicolas Guerriero.

If your child says they're worried about meeting new friends, experts say, that's okay.

Just validate their concerns and reassure them that they'll meet friends in a few weeks.

But if your child hasn't expressed any concerns, some experts say, you may give them a complex by asking them too many questions.

"If you have a shyer child, and you start to say, 'oh did you make friends today? Who did you make friends with?' The child starts to feel inadequate," said Lois Braverman, the President of the Ackerman Institute for the Family.

Braverman says parents can help build their child's interpersonal skills by just doing everyday errands.

"Ordering at a restaurant, going into a bank and making the deposit, talking to the bank teller, just practicing talking to strangers," Braverman said.

A few more tips include:

- Enrolling kids in activities they already excel in.

- Asking teachers and administrators for help. They can use a shy child as a tutor or helper.

- And if the worry turns into anxiety that interferes with schoolwork, seek professional help.

As for Nick's older brother and sister, they plan to socialize in their music clubs.

"At the new school, that whole district is all about arts and music which I'm really in to," said 7th grader, Frank Guerriero.

"I really want to jump into the new experience, meet some new friends, but then I'm really going to miss my old friends," said 9th grader, Victoria Guerriero.

But with social networking websites, they really aren't leaving friends behind.

Overall, the key is confidence, which Frank has in his siblings.

"He's (Nick) totally friendly. He can talk to anybody who wanted to talk to him. And Victoria, is the same way, she's a very bubbly person, she's got a great personality and I think everyone should want to be around her," Frank said.