I found this blog post that I had written back in 2017 (Donna), and since yesterday was Superbowl Sunday, football will definitely be a topic of conversation today. I realized that I had also just chatted with a child in one of my groups about this idea within the last couple of weeks. I know many kids who will always agree to play with another child or join in when they are asked or invited to, but they rarely, if ever, initiate a social interaction on their own. These kids are good receivers of friendship overtures, but they aren’t making the initial play.
I got to thinking that teaching kids initiation skills is similar to football. If you are always a receiver, you may or may not be the one that the football gets passed to. The odds are a great deal less the ball will come your way. However, a quarterback gets to call the plays and pass the ball. He has a 100% chance of interaction. So, it makes some sense to teach the kids how to be a quarterback and call the friendship plays. How do you coach a child to change their position from receiver to quarterback? Encourage them to:
- Go up to someone at recess and say, “I’d like to play with you. What are you playing?”
- Call a classmate for a play date or have a parent help you make the call.
- If you are a teen, send the text to suggest a plan for Friday night. A concrete plan. Lots of teens are sitting home waiting on that football to come their way. Be the one who throws the ball.
The eventual pay-off of being a good quarterback is that a child or teen will also be a more frequently invited receiver and the back-and-forth of friendship will become a natural series of initiation and response. Friendship touchdowns are sure to happen if you throw the ball enough times!