Elementary school can be the best time and the hardest time for kids. And if you're on of the thousands of military families moving this PCS season, you are probably looking at some big challenges helping your children get ready for the change ... including the prospect of saying "goodbye" to friends and making new ones.
That's why we asked military spouses parents at our Military.com Spouse Summit for their best tips for helping their kids make new friends after a PCS. These spouses are experts at this stuff because they've been there and done it. And while some of this stuff may seem like a no-brainer ... but sometimes the extra logical ideas are the ones that forget.
5 Ways to Help School-Aged Kids Make Friends1. Make meeting new people fun. Unless your child is the ultimate extrovert, meeting new people probably isn't naturally fun. It's probably really scary. That's why you have to MAKE it fun. Kids gravitate to other kids in the right situations, so take time to step outside the box with new and different activities with your child. If your move is in the summer, for example, your new local library likely has a summer story time for older children.
2. Go places where new friends might be. Neighborhood parks, a new school, church youth group and sports or extra curricular activities are all great places for kids to make new friends fast. Take time to step away from unpacking and settling in, and sign your child up for local kids-stuff. You may spend some extra time playing Mom Shuttle Bus for a few weeks, but knowing your child is having a chance at new friends is worth it.
3. Get a duty station sponsor. While not all spouse sponsors OCONUS or stateside are created equal, these people can be a treasure trove of information for you and your child.
4. You be the friend maker. Rather than sign your child up for every activity under the sun, take a few minutes to dive in yourself. Volunteer with the school, host a housewarming party and meet the neighbors. Your kids are watching you -- and as you model friend making they will learn how to do it for themselves, too.
5. Know that sometimes kids don't have a new best friend right away -- and that's OK. For some children not having a "best friend" on tap is a devastating state. But our expert moms at the Spouse Summit said the key is letting your child know that making friends -- especially a best friend -- can take some time, and that's OK.