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EP22 - Helping Your Child Build Healthy Friendships
Episode 2228th September 2021 • I AM MOM Parenting Podcast • Dimple Arora & Shaista Fatehali
00:00:00 00:35:25

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It’s quite common for parents to worry about if their child feels lonely and has enough friends at school. Do they fit it? Are they having fun at recess?  Do they have a sense of belonging at school? Having heard these concerns often, this episode is dedicated to helping you become aware of what’s necessary to help your child build healthy friendships.

Be sure to listen for:

·      The physiology behind wanting to connect with others and being in a state of “safe and social”

·      The impact the pandemic and household environment has on our children’s ability to create friendships

·      Determining what type of friendship personality your child has

·      The 75 year Harvard Study that gives us more reason to prioritize social connection for our children and ourselves

·      The benefits of social connection on mental, emotional and physical health

·      How to build the skills to make friends and keep friends, particularly in the preschool years to set your child up for future friendship success

·      How to support your kids on developing their communication and connection skills

·      The concept of BFF and what it really means to a child

·      What to become aware of in ourselves in order to model relationship skills to our child

·      What you can say to your child about making friends

·      The importance of getting your child out of their comfort zone

About the Hosts:

About Dimple Arora – Founder of Mindful Evolution

Dimple Arora is the founder of Mindful Evolution (ME) — a parenting movement that aims to empower parents and their kids towards positive transformation and life changing thought, one emotion and one choice at a time.

Dimple is an expert in women and teen empowerment and specializes in helping individuals reduce the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety using mindfulness, nutrition, EFT tapping and other energy psychology modalities. Dimple is a Certified Life Coach, EFT and NLP Practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist and Energy Therapist. She holds degrees in mathematics, business, and education and was previously employed in the corporate world and as a high school math teacher.

You can book a complimentary coaching call with Dimple on her website at and connect with her on social media. 




About Shaista Fatehali – Founder of Thrive Kids

Shaista Fatehali is the founder of Thrive Kids BC where she works with children and families to help nurture connection, empower a sense of self - worth and discover what is needed for individual families to thrive. Shaista is a speaker and the author of the children’s book BACK HOME; which has received accolades nationwide. She is a certified children’s and parent life coach and works with clients to build soft skills such as interpersonal awareness, effective communication, emotional agility emotional regulation, problem solving, transition planning and mindfulness . As a teacher and mother of two young girls, her true passion lies in giving her children, her students and clients the tools to reach their most true authentic selves.

To book a complimentary call with Shaista or to learn more about Shaista and the programs she offers at Thrive Kids BC, please visit her website at


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Shaista Fatehali:

Imagine being present calm and connected, while creating a family environment where everyone can thrive.

Dimple Arora:

Welcome to the IM mom parenting podcast, providing inspiration and actionable steps to manifest the meaningful and magical life you desire for you and your family.

Shaista Fatehali:

We are your hosts dimple, Aurora, founder and mindful evolution and shape the daily founder of Thrive kids.

Dimple Arora:

Thank you for sharing the I am mom journey with us. Let's get started.

Shaista Fatehali:

Hello, everyone. Today's topic is one of extreme importance in today's world. And we know this because it's a topic a lot of you have brought to our attention. And we've had a lot of questions, and a lot of inquiries about this topic. Today, we're going to discuss how to help your kids build healthy friendships. It is because of having healthy friendships that will help develop your child a sense of belonging and a sense of self esteem. And this is particularly important because we are in a stage where we are coming out of a pandemic, and some of our social skills have been inhibited. And having healthy friendships is such a point of connection. But our kids may have somewhat lost the skill or need to have some more confidence around rebuilding this. And that's exactly what we're going to do today, we're gonna give you a little bit of background around it as well as some strategies. This is

Dimple Arora:

a really important time because like you said, we're coming out of this pandemic, and we need connection. And in a world when compassion and connection was needed the most our kids and ourselves, we were denied of that in the last year or two, right. And it's so important to understand getting back into the world is not the easiest thing to do. And I want to put some physiology around this, because in order to be in a state of social engagement, where we feel connected to ourselves and to the outer world, we actually need to be in a state where our parasympathetic nervous system is in a state of rest and digest. And we spoke about this quite a bit in our episodes on anxiety, I believe, episodes, three, four or five around there. And it is our state of safety and homeostasis. So when we are in this state, we are grounded, we are mindful, we're more joyful, we're curious, we're compassionate, more empathetic, that's the state that we need to be in in order to feel social. So our kids, in order for them to feel social, they need to be in a calm state. So it's important to create a household where we are fostering that, that opportunity for them. And in fact, when we're in the rest and digest state, physiologically, our digestion, our resistance to infection, our circulation, our immune responses, and our ability to connect is all improved. So that is really important. As we go into this episode, on how to build healthy friendships.

Shaista Fatehali:

I think that's so important. And I love the lens that you have brought to this episode. Because when we talk about, for example, this pandemic, right, and I think subconsciously, we are still all in this state of anks, right? Because we've been through so much we don't know, you read. There's so many still so many unknowns. And so when your child is coming into school, for example, they still have this unpredictability. They're still on edge. And we as parents are still on edge. So when they're coming to school in this state, as you said, it's going to be more difficult to make friendships. So it really kind of puts things more into perspective. Now that I'm thinking about it through this lens. And it's really important for them to incorporate some of those strategies that we talked about in those previous episodes. So they are able to To feel more relaxed, more comfortable, more confident, so that they are able to build these relationships, right and their world is getting bigger. They're when they're entering school, whether it be kindergarten, or whether it be high school or anywhere in between, their world is getting bigger. And it's an opportunity for them to build these relationships, right. And relationships in friendships are so good for children's self esteem. When your child has really good friends, they feel like they belong, right to a tribe or to a community. They feel like they have people that care about them. And then what's going to happen is they're going to help, they're going to feel good about themselves and support. But it's sometimes difficult to let our guards down or their guards down to build these friendships to start with.

Dimple Arora:

Absolutely, and letting our guard down is not easy when we have been put in a in a fight or flight state, recently through this pandemic. So now that we're coming out of it, we need to prioritize what's important. And it's, it's challenging in today's world to prioritize what's important for our children. We're maintaining our social media, we're maintaining our career, we're maintaining life at home. And this is a priority social connection for our children is a priority. And there was a study done at Harvard, a 75 year study. And one thing that was concluded at the end of the study was that good relationships keep us healthier, and happier. It's not your position in your career. It's not how many Facebook friends you have, it's not how many how much money you have. The biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall, is basically your relationships. And having a friend, someone to rely on, it helps your nervous system to relax, it helps your brain to stay healthier for longer. It even reduces physical and emotional pain. And this data has been shown through brain scans through 75 years of researcher researchers looking at this information, emotional health, physical health. So it's really important to teach our kids the skills to develop healthy social relationships. And I'm so excited about this episode, because it is such a common concern for for parents. Is are is does my child have enough friends? Or is my child too lonely at school, or my child is having a hard time making friends. And this is why we're doing this episode for you today.

Shaista Fatehali:

You know, and making friends and keeping friends. This is a skill, right? And it really is very dependent on your child's personality, because some kids are very, very natural at it. And they're really good at it right. And some kids might need some more direct teaching around it. Sometimes people might not connect with each other, right? You're not going to connect with everyone. So it could be that your very young child doesn't have any friends because they just haven't met anyone yet, right? So it's really important to look at the individual make up of your child right and see what strategies can really work best for them.

Dimple Arora:

Definitely, I really think this is so important. You have to know your child. For example, a child who is more sensitive and more empathetic, they may take some time to warm up in new situations. This is my daughter, okay when she was young, and these children tend to get labeled as shy, but really, they're not shy, they just have more of an inwards energy and they observe internally before they act out externally. Okay. So a lot of times parents will rush these kids to her to become comfortable in a new situation and parents themselves will become anxious that the child has not yet warmed up. But it's important to realize that these children cannot be rushed. They need to first observe and then warm up And sometimes that may may take two hours for a child. And even as adults, we may take time to warm up in certain situations as adults, we can see the difference in personalities, right. So it's very important to know your child, there's so many different styles of, of the way people relate to the outer world. So for example, some people are very active, and a child may come across as very friendly and very outgoing. And friends are drawn to that person, right for their energy and their confidence, and they're not even intimidated by other kids. And those kids are sometimes told to settle down, be quiet, that they are stealing the show or whatever it is, or they just want attention. But those kids have a more outwards expression to the world. So they like to play they like to be active, they naturally want to connect with people. Right? So it's important to just know your child.

Shaista Fatehali:

Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. I think that's the first step. And then knowing what, where they can go next. Right. So if your child is someone who is a lot more inward, and that is something that's known to them, and they're totally okay with that. But now, they also want to be able to talk to Susan, that's in her sitting right next to her. But maybe she just doesn't know how to do that, right. So then what happens is it's giving the skills that she needs, so you're looking at the strengths and the individuality of your child, and then you're looking at where you can support them. And this is really, really important to begin, right from the early age, right. So I'm going to let you know a little bit about what to do in the preschool years, because in these preschool years, you are able to be present and available when your child is playing with others through either watching them or going to play dates or community groups. And this is the perfect, perfect example of how you can give direct instruction, or share how to resolve conflicts. Now, everyone here knows that I am a kindergarten teacher. And this is the perfect opportunity for me as a kindergarten teacher to observe my students in these settings. And then I get right in there. A lot of the times you might hear individuals say, Well, if you have a problem with Johnny, use your words or talk it out. But the reality of it is, and I was guilty of this when I first started teaching as well. But I realized that the reality of this is that they don't know what to say. They don't know use your words, what do you mean? Like what words Am I supposed to use, it makes no sense to them. So what they require is these direct skills. So sometimes some kids will, will need that example. That hand holding, and some kids might be more natural in solving it. But in the preschool years, this modeling is really, really important and direct teaching, right? So children, for example, are going to get angry with friends, right? Whether it's inward or external and outward, they are going to be angry because challenges are going to happen. But that also gives you the opportunity to teach your child how this anger is manifesting, manifesting within themselves, the emotional, physical sensation of anger, and how they can express this anger in a healthy way. And it's also important for them to remember that it's okay, if they're frustrated, it's okay if they're angry, and that this moment will pass.

Dimple Arora:

Absolutely, it's so important to give them these opportunities to practice their social skills with you at home, when you are safe to support them. And I love that concept of giving them the skills and the words to use. So even role playing at home is very, it's a very good way to teach them playing with when they're young at that age that you're discussing. when they're young, say you're playing with dolls or with superheroes or cars or whatever it is. You can also roleplay and teach them that way. Right and then at any age It's important to give them the opportunities to use these skills as often as they can. So giving them opportunities to socialize outside of the house through extracurricular activities, maybe your child is very into sports, it can be a great way for them to connect with peers that have the same interests as them at any age. And even if it's through a community group, or through your own friend circle, I find that's really important as a family to have a friend circle so that your child or children have friends that they actually grow up with in the long term as well.

Shaista Fatehali:

Hmm, yeah, definitely. A lot of the times with school aged children, you'll often hear them saying, john, Johnny is a best friend or stay, you'll hear Frank is my best friend, right? So you have this concept, I find a best friend coming up a lot. And I'm sure if you're listening to this, you can relate to this. And this is just some, this is a stage that a lot of school aged children go through the concept of a best friend, because it's so important to them. And even though if it does switch from day to day, but it is a concept that's important to them, and it's a great opportunity for you as a parent, to discuss or to relate this best friend idea and what incorporates what aspects of the this friendship constitutes the best friend, right? And really to take this on, like developmental leap, because there can be this chance, opportunity next week where I'm not friends with that person anymore, right? It's very likely. But then, often, I think what happens is we're like, oh, yeah, cuz in our minds, we know, like, Okay, well, you know, this is going to happen. But really take that opportunity with your child to say, Well, what happened here that you're not best friends with Gianni anymore? Because you were best friends with him just yesterday. So really taking that opportunity? And I think sometimes, too, it's fair to say that we as parents might not have all the answers, right, we can do the modeling, we can be as supportive. But it's also perfectly fine to get help from a third party to do this, right. And we work with a lot of kids that requires some supports and knowing their strengths. And in knowing how to solve conflicts with their peers, if that's a challenge, they're incorporating, or need specific strategies and skills. And sometimes as a parent, we might try our hardest to do it. But a lot of the times the family dynamics might come into play. So if you do find that your child may have some specific needs to this, there's nothing wrong in finding a therapist or play therapist or it'll coach to help your child through this.

Dimple Arora:

Absolutely, even the support of the teacher can be very helpful as well. So if you are in a scenario, where your child is having trouble making friends at school, and this can come at any age, it's very common at in the younger preschool, younger grades, as well as the older grades in high school as well. And what we want to do is, is involve the teacher some it's easier in the younger grades, because the teacher can do some introductions at recess and say, oh, have you met, so and so and, and include that child that way. In the older grades, it is more difficult. But there are guidance counselors to work with there are teachers can really facilitate that environment in their classrooms that allows the students to become involved with each other and build friendships. So that's also very important. What we want to do is really give our kids the sense of social resilience. So you were talking about this idea of best friend. We want kids to know that friendships can change. And you can have a lot of, quote best friends. And so we want them to know that although friendships change, it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with them. Or with that other person that you can outgrow your friends. You can situations can change, interests can change, you can move away. There's a lot that can impact friendships. We want to teach our children, that friendships are not always forever. You don't always have a BFF It's amazing. If you can have a childhood friend for your entire life, and a lot of times people will move on and it's okay to, to be friends with, you know, a lot of people at different times in your life.

Shaista Fatehali:

Yeah, and that's such a good point. And, you know, I think As parents, we don't want our children to have harsh friendships or friendships, because their hearts their hearts get broken. Right? And when you think about it, though, isn't that just a great life skill? right? Exactly, it really does. It really does this concept of friendship or friendships that break really brings home this essential point of resiliency, because then you're really able to have either you or whoever does this, this experience with your with that child, and what to do in this situation, right, figuring how to communicate this to that person, figuring out how to raise this concern or issue with this friend, or even having if it needs to have it, they need to have some closure around the friendship, right, and how to handle themselves in a resilient way. So that when they do come into these, these conflicts in the future, which are undoubtedly going to occur, they will have the strategies and the tools, or at least the confidence to use some of these strategies and skills when these do worker.

Dimple Arora:

Yeah, and it goes back to our episodes on empowered communication, too, and how we are communicating with our children, and they are watching and listening to everything we say. So we can also teach them these strategies in directly because we are interacting with others and they are watching that. So as long as we're mindful of the way that we are interacting with others, we can teach our children how to have these social skills as well how to communicate. I remember Adia as she started saying after every interaction when she was young, and we were leaving a playdate. Okay, bye. Thank you for having us. Right, or Thank you for coming. Right. So they learn from hearing you and from watching you. And so I think that parents need to become very aware of how they're relating to others in their relationship in order to show their children how to be social, right. And sometimes, what happens is parents are very social, and the child is more inwards. So in that case, sometimes the social interactions are too plenty for that child. So you have to become aware of when your child needs to decompress, when they need alone time, just like we do as adults, just to reground. And sometimes the child doesn't want to be as social and it's more social contact than what that child actually needs. Right. So it's important to also be mindful of how much you're socializing, so that it does fit into the family dynamic as well.

Shaista Fatehali:

Yeah, absolutely. And they know we talked a lot about preschool kids, preschool children and school aged children. But this is also so so relevant and important for teenagers and preteens, right? A lot of there's so many transitions that are happening, and at this age, they want to be part of a tribe. Right? And they want to find someone that they can connect with. And oftentimes As parents, we are really worried at this age, about negative peer influence, right? And the thing is the this is a vulnerable, a very vulnerable stage. Right. And it's true that during adolescence, there is the presence of peers, right and there is the presence of wanting to follow up a group and there might be some negative influences. But it's important for you to know that if you have these concerns, to have this open and empowered dialogue with your child, right Having, and also remembering that it is because they want to feel connected and part of a tribe. And if they are able to have these needs met in a way where it is supported by you, then they will be more likely to even if they do face these negative influences, to feel confident in their own abilities to move in the right direction,

Dimple Arora:

definitely, it's such a good point. And I feel like these skills, this confidence that we instill in our children, that goes with them into their teenage years comes from these younger years, and the competence that they develop there. And we have to make them feel competent in order in order for them to feel confident. So some of the things that you can say to your child at any age, that can go with them for a lifetime, is you can connect with friends, however it feels comfortable for you. It's okay to have just one friend to rely on. It's okay to have small circles of friends. You don't have to rush to become friends with someone if you aren't comfortable. And it doesn't matter how many friends you have, as long as you have the right friends. So those are some of the things that you can instill in your children at a young age, so that they can understand what it means to have the skills to have strong friendships.

Shaista Fatehali:

Absolutely, there's also, you know, this concept, and I remember feeling this a lot as a child growing up this concept of normalcy, right? Like, am I normal. So I think with parents to us, it's also about looking and communicating with, when possible with some of the parents of our child's buttons, I was about to say, with our friends, I met your child's friends. So because let's say for example, like I grew up in a really strict household. And I know now that it wasn't normal to be in a bad, strict household. But I did keep asking myself, am I normal, and really felt out of place that abnormal. So when it was with my peer group, it was harder for me to make friends because I did feel so abnormal, right. And I'm not not saying that you need to change your rules to fit other people's, but just getting an idea of what some of the boundaries might be with some of your children's friends, parents. So then that way, they do have this sense of normalcy in their life, and they don't feel like they are abnormal, and they do feel like they fit in. Because what this is going to do, it's really going to support behavior, right. And it's also going to help support this connection. And this is particularly within these teen years, because when they do feel that they're abnormal, or that they're being treated, quote unquote, abnormally or unfairly, that is when they will rebel. But when parents do work together to create common expectations, teenagers will feel like they're being treated differently, and then they're going to be more likely to comply with rules.

Dimple Arora:

Definitely. And you know, it's important if you're, if your teenager or your child of any age has always had trouble with difficult situations, it's important not to avoid that problem. Because we want them to be able to develop those relationship skills so that it can help them in their adult life. And if you're just sitting at home and and enabling them to avoid such social situations, they're not going to be able to get out of their comfort zone, and that is going to affect them in their adult life. So from a young age, we want to teach them that developing friendships is part of trying new things. It is part of getting out of your comfort zone, it is part of giving yourself those neural pathways in your brain so that you can have strong social interactions for the rest of your life. So it's really important to encourage and gently praise your child, if they have trouble in social situations when they do have some success, some small success and to keep Trying and to really look at your own parenting to see if and how you may have contributed to your child's social interactions not being as strong as you would like them, like maybe, maybe they have they have your child has a lack of confidence, just looking at what could have contributed to that child's lack of confidence.

Shaista Fatehali:

Mm hmm. And if there is something that and I think we all do, right, there's so many inadvertence ways that those have occurred. And the biggest thing that I want to take you to take away is that, that's okay, because there is repair, right? There's always there. And it's not something that you should feel guilty about. Because it happens to all of us inadvertently, we always just want the best for our children. And sometimes the results might not be what we expected. But when we know how to repair, and we know how to rebuild some of those connections, then we're going to be in a much better place. And a lot of the strategies that we have shown we have talked about today will help in that positive direction.

Dimple Arora:

Yes. And lastly, we want to look at our state of being as well. Are we in a state of being safe and social, with our children? Are we in the mindset that allows them to come to us for support? Are we open enough to receive the unconditional love that they are giving us, we need to be mindful of our own state so that we are faced safe and social so that we can teach them how to have those social interactions so that they can go on to develop healthy relationships in their adult life. And there's been a lot that a lot of research in this area, and healthy relationships, healthy friendships, it adds to your, your physical health, your emotional health, as we said, and your longevity as well. So we talked about quite a bit in this episode, there are so many strategies, and we would be here for hours, we could probably do an entire workshop on this topic. But we are excited to talk about this topic, because it's so common and like shyster said, we get so many inquiries about it. And so the main points are making sure that we are we as parents and your child is in a state of rest and digest so that they do feel more social and more interactive, that we have to teach them the social skills from a young age. And that's through modeling it for them. And being mindful of how we're interacting with others. We want to teach them how to build social resilience, and show them that they can be confident and competent, trying new things. And we also want to make sure that we enlist the help of any professional for our child, whether it be the teacher, whether it be a therapist, whether it be a life coach, so that your child can develop the skills to make strong friendships. And I also wanted to add one last thing here, it's really important not to compare your child to anyone, except to themselves, so that they're always becoming a better version of themselves. Because when we compare them, they then learn to compare in their friendships as well. So that will also impact how much social interaction they seek, when they're being compared or when they're being left out at home or when they feel not good enough. So it's really important to not compare our children to anyone but themselves. So we hope that you enjoyed this episode today. And please feel free to reach out to us if your child is having difficulty making new friends. And we are happy to empower you with the knowledge and speak to you directly about that to help your child thrive in their friendships. So we'll see you next time and thank you for listening. Take care. Thank you for joining us on the IM mom parenting journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, please follow us and head on over to iTunes To leave us a review,

Shaista Fatehali:

we invite you to check out the show notes for this episode, and click on the link to join our free Facebook community to stay connected and continue the conversation with other like minded moms.