One of the most basic and often overlooked social skills our kids need to learn in order to be approachable and available to make friends is to greet others appropriately.
Last summer, when I taught campers how to introduce themselves to others, step 1 included smiling and making eye contact. That step holds true for greeting other kids they already know as well. Friendships don’t begin as full-fledged, connected relationships. They start with a simple greeting.
When kids (or adults!) walk past people they know without acknowledging the person or extending a greeting, it makes them come across as being unfriendly. The lack of greeting can give other kids the impression they are not available for a closer friendship. Kids can also misinterpret the lack of greeting as an indication that they do not like them.
A friendly greeting with a smile, eye contact, and a simple, “Hi, Sammy!” is all it takes to make kids more approachable and desirable as a friend.
Many times, kids who feel isolated say, “No one likes me.” But their body language and behavior often are the main issue. They do not know how to appropriately greet other kids in a way that makes them seem open to friendship.
If you are parenting or working with a child who struggles to connect with other kids, start with the simple challenge of having them smile at 10 other kids or adults today. Have them count how many smile back. Make it a game. Did they get a 50% positive response?
After your child has practiced the “10 smiles” challenge for a few days, the next task can be to include a “Hi!” with the smile.
And, once your child is ready for advanced greeting mode, the challenge can be to smile, make eye contact, and say “Hi!” using the other kid’s name.
The simple act of learning to greet others in a friendly manner is a fundamental skill our kids need in order to make friends. If your child is struggling in this area and wants to make a change, a smile is a great place to start!
More Friendship Skills Resources