The Easiest (and Least Scary!) Way to Make New Friends
Adapted from Image-Based Life Lessons (YouthLight, Inc)
Friendship is built on connectors. If you want to make more friends, you first need to figure out what your connectors are--things you LOVE to DO.
For example, here are a few things this boy loves to do at recess:
Now that he knows his recess connectors, he is ready to make some friends.
"Do you like basketball?"
"Yes, I love basketball! Let's play!"
They run off to play basketball and a friendship is formed:
Friendships are built on connectors. Whenever friends are together, they are most likely DOING something together they both love. They aren't just sitting around twiddling their thumbs.
The problem is, when we meet someone new, we don't know what their connectors are:
If you were Camila, how could you find out what Amber's connectors were?
"What do you like to do?"
"Do you like board games?"
Camila loves collecting robots. Maybe she worries that Amber will think it's silly. She should try starting with something common that lots of kids like--riding bikes, playing board games--and then, after a friendship is started, she can try her less common connectors.
Amber loves an uncommon game called carroms. She asks Camila if she would like to play. Should Camila say, "Sorry, but that's not one of my connectors?" No! As long as it's not a dangerous, bad game of some kind, try it! See what happens when she does:
Camila gains a new connector!
Which of these two kids below probably has more friends?
This girl on the left has TONS of friends! She's got her scooter friends, her softball friends, her trampoline friends...
The girl on the right has a hard time making new friends. As a school counselor, sometimes kids come into my office and ask for help making friends. So I say, "Let's go out to recess and find you some new friends."
When we get outside, the conversation sometimes goes like this:
Me: Over there is a big game of soccer, why don't you go play that?
Kid: Nah, I don't really like soccer.
Me: Okay, why don't you join that game of freeze tag?
Kid: I'm not very fast.
Me: Hmm, those kids like to walk around and talk about their favorite shows, how about that?
Kid: I don't really like that either.
And everything I ask, the kid says they don't really like doing until finally I scratch my head and think to myself, "Now I see why you don't have the friends you want: you need more connectors!"
Learn to be open to new things, to try new things, even if you aren't very good at them. Have fun anyway. (But not if it's a dangerous, not-so-good thing a friend asks you to do.)
One last thing. A connector is more than just having something in common. There are STRONG connectors and WEAK connectors.
You can't really make a friendship off of eating spaghetti or having the same favorite color. "Ooh, I know! Why don't you come over to my house today and we'll eat spaghetti all afternoon and then stay up late talking about the color blue?"
Use your connectors to build friendships. After that, you'll need to be nice and to have good social skills to keep those friends, but friendships always start with connectors!
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This article was adapted from "My Connectors," a PowerPoint and lesson plan found in Image-Based Life Lessons, a book and CD containing 50 lessons to promote social, emotional, and career development.