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Sometimes it’s hard enough to make new friends at school, but maybe you’ve transferred more than once. This can happen at any time because we live in a highly mobile society. However, when you are in foster care, there’s usually no way around it. It’s not exactly the worst thing that life can throw at you, but it is still just another challenge you need to deal with.
One thing we do know is that it is a bit more difficult for teens to make new friends than for younger kids because teens seem to be a little more reserved and a lot more insecure. So, how do you make new friends yet again? Is there some magical formula? Well, it might not exactly be magic, but there are a few tips that could help you make another round of friends.
Keep Your Head Up
Just because you are in foster care, this doesn’t mean there’s anything to be ashamed of. Sadly, some kids feel that being “in the system” sets them apart from all the otherkids but actually, you’ve got it wrong! If you could only know just how many kids are in foster care, you wouldn’t feel this way. With life being as hard as it can be, many families aren’t able to care for their kids. Just keep your head up and meet people eye-to-eye.
If someone smiles at you, smile right back at them. Eye contact is very important because it enables you to see the expression in another person’s eyes. Without it, you can be imagining that they are looking at you all kind of ways when in reality, they may not have even glanced in your direction.
Get the Lay of the Land
What you might want to do is take a few days just to sit back and observe. Get an idea of the kind of dynamics going on in your various classes. Although you are told never to judge a book by its cover, you can generally tell a lot about other kids based on the way they treat each other. By doing this, you won’t be overly upset if one of those kids comes across as a bit harsh or a bit cold.
It just might be their personality and you know this because you quietly observed their interactions with their friends. You can also tell if they have the kind of personality that you would get on with well. If they are totally out there and you are more reserved, you might want to seek a friend who is more like you are. Even though they say opposites attract, sometimes that just isn’t true! Friends with common interests tend to work best in the long term.
Look for Kids Sitting Alone at Lunch
There may be other kids out there who are just as new as you are, but you wouldn’t know that because you weren’t there to see their arrival! Since you aren’t there to win any popularity contests, it might help you to be that one kid who offers friendship to the loner. You never know what other people are going through and that kid you’ve decided to talk to may be experiencing problems at home or issues with classmates for one reason or another.
Sometimes the very act of being there for someone else will open more doors for you, personally, than you could imagine at this point. Besides, one kid is more likely to open up about things that go on in that school than others who might be reluctant to share in front of their mates.
Join Clubs and Extracurricular Activities That Interest You
Most schools have any number of clubs and extracurricular activities you could take part in. Maybe there’s a drama club and you’ve acted in plays and musicals at your previous school. Perhaps there’s a debate club and if there is one thing you are good at, it would be debating. Whether you want to join the school band or chorus, the chess club, or the school sustainability focus group, there is always something that interests you and this is where you are likely to meet friends with common interests.
Be Quick With the Compliments
Every once in a while, that one kid will interest you. Maybe it’s the way they dress or their demeanour. Something about them got your attention and you’d like to get to know them better. Try giving them a compliment. It could be about the clothes they are wearing or perhaps the way they answered a question in a class you both share. Most people love being complimented because it means they were noticed. You’ll never know just how many lifelong friendships began with an impromptu compliment. Don’t you love it when someone notices something you’ve done or are proud of? Well, most people are like that, so give it a try!
Meet With the School Social Worker or Academic Advisor
Sometimes it helps to make an appointment with the school social worker or academic advisor to get tips on finding new friends. Talk to them about things you are interested in and your academic goals. Share with them some of the issues you’ve experienced in your home life and, if you feel comfortable doing so, share why you were placed in care. Although they have your records right there in front of them, your perception of what happened may shed a whole new light on why you are in foster care in the first place. These professionals can make suggestions on where to find new friends based on things that interest you. They can also set you up with future meetings to stay in touch with how you are doing.
Just look at it this way. Since you’ve been through it before, you are bound to be an expert by now! Probably the only thing standing in your way is your own reluctance to put yourself out there. Now that you’ve got that mastered, you’re home free. You got this so let’s see what you can do!
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