friends with arms around each other

Dear Dr. Expert,

I’m in Grade 7 and am starting high school this year. I am so nervous! I’ve always been a little shy, but it’s never really mattered before because I’ve always gone to the same school as all my friends I’ve grown up with. But this summer, we moved and I’m going to a totally new school and I won’t know anyone.  I don’t even know where to begin – I have no idea how to make new friends! 

Lonely in Lethbridge

Dr. Expert: Dear Lonely in Lethbridge, 

Making friends is a skill. Think about the other skills you have – playing the piano, driving, or swimming. You didn’t just get thrown in the deep end of the pool and know how to swim! You had to learn how to swim.  So, the good news is that making friends is a skill that can be learned just like swimming! Think about what part of making friends makes you nervous. Maybe, it’s walking up to new people, saying hello, or starting a conversation. Once you know what parts are hard, then, you can start working on them! So, for example, if you want to work on how to introduce yourself to someone new, you can write down what you want to say and then practice saying it. Or think of some ice breakers that sound natural (e.g. “Where did you get that purse?” “What was the homework assignment?”) You can pretend that you’re an actor practicing for a play.  Start by practicing it in front of a mirror. Then, ask someone you trust if you can practice it with him or her! 

Another good way to make friends is think about the activities that interest you and join a team or group at school, like the band or basketball. When you are surrounded by people who share similar interests, it’s even easier to make friends because you already have something to talk about! Good Luck.