TREASURE friends like family
As adults, we all have that friend (or friends) that we are excited to see, talk to, share life stories with, and go to events with. Friends are a huge part of our everyday lives, and helps us to bond and have a social circle outside of our immediate family. For children, friendships are an important part of growing up and a vital part of their social and emotional development.
As stated in an article by Life Education, “social competence, altruism, self-esteem, and self-confidence have all been found to be positively correlated to having friends. Studies have found that friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity. And, as children mature, friends are able to help reduce stress and navigate challenging developmental experiences, especially during teenage years.”
Making friends and keeping those friends takes a lot of different skills that children need to learn and develop. For some children, it’s very easy to navigate how to make friends very easily. For others, it can prove to be more difficult to make friendships.
It is always best for the child to learn and navigate the world of friendships the best he/she can. As parents or caretakers, it can be a gut instinct or reaction to jump in and try to help the child make friendships by interfering. However, it’s best for the child if parents and caretakers, take a step back and instead find ways to help the child navigate the world of friendships themselves. This will help the child become more confident in his/her abilities and can also help to build and develop their own social skills in the long run.
Here are some ways we, as adults, can help children navigate friendships without interfering:
2. Help your child develop positive social skills starting at an early age. It’s imperative to teach children about sharing with others, thinking about someone else’s feelings and the importance of listening. These are all social skills that are vital pieces of making friendships that last. This can be supported by making opportunities where the child will have to utilize and practice their social skills (i.e. organizing opportunities where the child is able to encounter lots of different people).
3. Provide opportunities for your child to connect with other children with similar interests. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is joining a sports team. However, other great opportunities would be in martial arts, various camps, dance class, theatre group, swimming club, and many more.
4. Help them to find new interests or boost their confidence in everyday tasks/situations. A confident child is more likely to attempt to make friendships with others and initiate interacting with others.
5. Give shy or anxious children icebreaker topics. This can help the child to start conversations with others more easily. Role-playing and letting your child practice what they may say to others in different scenarios may also help boost their confidence.
A child confident in making his/her own friendships will make friends that last a lifetime that are just like family. These friendships can prove to be very beneficial during even the hardest times as they grow older together. These friendships and bonds are invaluable and treasured.
Toot and Puddle: You Are My Sunshine by Holly Hobbie is about two adorable pigs that are best friends. In this book, one of the pigs, Puddle, goes great lengths to try to cheer up his friend Toot. Friends by Helme Heine is a great book about three best friends that go on an outing together where there are one line lessons about friendship throughout the story, i.e. “Good friends always decide things together.” Enemy Pie by Derek Munson is a funny and entertaining story with instructions for turning a best enemy into a best friend.
Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.