We can’t choose our children’s pals, but we can educate them on how to select excellent and appropriate companions. Teaching kids what makes a good friend, how to pick their own friends, and how to be a good friend to others. Communication, loyalty, support, and how to handle conflicts without hurt emotions are among topics covered in friendship training.
Around the age of 4-5, children begin to form lasting connections. Classmates, neighbourhood children, cousins, and connections made through the parent’s friendships are all examples of these types of relationships. As parents, we want to make sure that our kids know how to make good friends.
Children experience playing side-by-side before the age of four, where they are each engaged in their own activities and exploration to meet their own wants. Children over the age of four are better at working together with a buddy, know how to compromise, and are more sensitive (and empathic) to others’ feelings.
See also: How To Teach Siblings To Be Best Friends
Most friendships are developed through parental involvement, as seen by your own connections with your friends. You’re teaching your kids how to connect with others, share, and support one another, as well as what traits, to seek for in a friend.
Adult guidance will not only help relationships thrive and have a purpose, but it will also assist children in weeding out unsuitable partnerships.
Encourage your children to be “includes” rather than “excluders” when it comes to bigger groups playing together, as well as how to respond to peer pressure and poor behavior.
Model the types of friendships you want your children to have by speaking to them, treating them well, and making them feel good. Kids are always observing, and this is yet another example of how they look to you for early advice.
Teaching your child how to be a good friend and the characteristics required to preserve friendships is the foundation of a loyal friendship.
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Helping Your Children Choose Good Friends
It’s possible that the children are on the same soccer team, in the same class, live down the street, or are just the same age and it can be difficult to not socialize together.
Although there is a common thread that binds individuals together, friendships require more depth. Finding numerous similar interests and spending time doing them together is the foundation of lasting friendships!
Commonalities between your child and their friend will bring them together, but shared interests such as science projects, scrapbooking, making up songs and dance routines, playing basketball, making jewellery, or riding bikes will keep them together.
Help your children and their friends explore their interests and find things they like doing together by supporting and encouraging them to participate in extracurricular activities.
Children will have a small group of pals with whom they share specific common interests. Julie and Sarah like taking dancing lessons together and creating their own routines, but Sarah prefers to spend time with her neighbour Emily and do crafts with her.
Friends don’t have to tick every box our kids have available; some will check a few, while others will check a few more.
When friends are unhappy, upset, injured, afraid, joyful, excited, or celebrating successes, they provide support to one another.
Because the individual means a lot to them, a good friend will provide their support, encouragement, compassion, and, of course, be a cheerleader.
Encourage your child to celebrate their achievement or to assist their buddy as much as they can during a difficult moment whether their friend is struggling or has experienced something wonderful.
During any significant successes, the other buddy has had, such as a team triumph, getting voted to school council, etc., help your child look through the green envy monster – jealously – and show your son or daughter how to be pleased for the other person.
If this means that Mom will call the mother of your children’s closest friend merely to say “congratulations,” then go ahead and do it.
Friendships that survive the test of time are founded on trust, kindness, and honesty, which implies that friends should never gossip about one another.
It’s fine for kids to vent to their parents about something they’re not content with or don’t understand, but talking negatively about pals, especially among school-aged children when cliques develop and peer pressure begins, is a no-no that will only harm the other person.
Role-playing could be done at home. How would your daughter react if her closest friend teased her about her clothes or the way she interacts with the other girls at school?
Being on the receiving end of gossip is difficult, and role-playing is a great way for kids to recall what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.
Also, if your kid hears others talking negatively about her buddy, encourager her to speak out for her friend. Being a good friend entails being loyal to one another and standing up for one another in difficult circumstances.
A person who talks poorly about another person will not make a good friend when your children are learning to pick the proper friends. A terrible buddy may not only speak rudely, but also refuses to listen, is unconcerned about others’ feelings, and may ignore or mock others.
See also: Explaining Tattling vs. Telling To Kids
One of the most rewarding aspects of connecting with another person is being able to share personal thoughts, experiences, and even prized possessions with them without fear of being judged.
Always urge your child to listen to what their buddy has to say with an open heart. Family ties could be strong, and while Mom or Dad could be the one with whom your child prefers to share for the time being, as they grow older, they want to be relatable to their peers, which includes revealing their most intimate details.
With their connections, young children begin the sharing process. Hey, we’ve all got to start sometime, right? Encourage them to share when they are ready, but don’t make them do it.
As your children get older, listen to them and gradually steer your talks to personal themes so that they learn how to open up and what questions are suitable to ask to get to know someone.
See also: Talking To Kids About Consent
It’s natural for friends to have disputes, and when they do, it’s vital to come together and talk, just like they do with their parents and especially siblings.
A self-assured child will be more likely to accept responsibility for their role in the argument, apologize, and move on – all key skills for being a good friend.
Before they can reach a common conclusion that makes everyone happy, a parent may need to carefully manage a dialogue about what led to the argument and help both children speak their sides of the issue.
It’s exciting to meet new people and form new friendships, but don’t forget to teach your children the importance of being includes. Make sure they don’t forget about their “old” pals when they make new ones.
When your children establish new friends, remind them that abandoning old ones is not a good practice. There will always be friends who have grown apart and are moving in separate paths, but if this isn’t the case, urge new and old friends to include each other.
Suggestions on how old friends can join the new group to aid in group integration.
Popularity comes and goes, and it is seldom earned via strong ties between real friends. True friendship will stay longer and mean more than being called a “popular girl” for the five minutes it lasts.
Helping Your Child Find Good Friends
Here are some things you can do to help your child find good friends.
- Make a list of your children’s strengths (which is also a fantastic confidence builder) and see if any of their strengths and interests overlap with those of a buddy.
- For your child to utilise on the playground, etc., practise a basic welcome / introduction.
- Make a list of easy games or jokes that your children can play with other children.
- What is your children’s passion? Consider enrolling them in a new class or sport where they will be able to meet other kids with similar interests.
- Ask instructors about positive connections emerging at school (or be mindful of toxic friendships, which is as essential) and offer to get the kids together outside of school.
Parents will always teach their children the most. Your children will learn to spend their own energy in friendships like the ones they know if they see you surrounded by good, supporting individuals who adore you.
If you’re an introvert like me, establishing friends is more difficult, but you probably have a few great relationships under your belt and can talk to your kids about the characteristics to look for in potential partners and the ones to avoid.
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“GENTLE PARENTING IS A LIFESTYLE THAT EMBRACES BOTH YOUR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR, NOT ONLY TOWARDS YOUR CHILDREN, BUT TO YOURSELF TOO“— SARA HOCKWELL-SMITH