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08. 02. 2019

How to Help Children Make and Keep Friendships

Friendship is one of the most important values to develop in children's education. It’s personal, pure and unselfish affection shared with another person that grows and is strengthened by relationships. For a child to learn about the value of friendship, it’s necessary to develop their knowledge, skills, emotions, experience, feelings, and to prepare them for living in harmony and respect.

Children should know who is a good friend and why, how good friends behave, and how to maintain a good friendship. They must learn that a good friend should be forever, and learn what is necessary to cultivate and nurture friendships day after day—at school, in the park, in the neighbourhood, etc. Contact with peers makes a child’s universe even bigger and richer.

What does friendship give us?

Friendly relations are central to the social and emotional development of children. With these relationships come important lessons where children learn to set standards, make decisions, analyse alternatives, and to collaborate and share.

Among the benefits we can highlight:

  • Psychosocial development: social skills, sense of community, relationships, power, friendship, empathy, solidarity, etc.

  • Emotional development: affection, self-esteem, sense of belonging, altruism.

  • Moral learning: norms and rules and meaning.

  • Friends bring comfort and help in difficult times.

  • Unique moments of fun, development, and confiding in one another.

Tips for helping children make friends

Teach them how to greet

Smile and say ‘Hi + name.’ Always encourage children to use the name of the person, if known.

Seek sociable environments

From the first moment, introduce the child to an environment rich in relationships with different people. Seek activities or environments where children can easily relate. Kindergarten, sports, etc.

Teach patience

Teach children to wait for their turn to play. Talk to them about the fact that everyone should agree with the rules before the game begins. Decide who goes first, for example by rolling dice. Teach them to be a good sport, no matter who wins or loses.

Sharing toys

Make some plan to share the same toy in shifts. Teach children to answer kindly when spoken to by other children.

Be a positive role model

Accept and love your son’s or daughter’s friends. Invite them to play at home. Talk to them in a friendly manner and be interested in what they talk about.

Offer help

Teach children when someone might want or need help.

Do not pigeonhole

Don’t label the child as a timid or different. Do not force your child to make friends, because it could create anxiety. Act naturally. It's good to introduce them to different social environments where they can meet boys and girls from school, at a sports lesson, etc.

Be sociable

Teach them social skills, such as how to behave in different situations, while being an example as an adult with your own friends.

Encourage children’s self-esteem

A healthy self-esteem will give children the confidence to face different social situations.

Develop empathy

Explain how you feel, and how others may feel. You can use examples, stories, etc.

Be positive

Teach children positive communication styles and develop their assertiveness, meaning saying one's opinion without harming anyone.

Avoid comparisons with friends

Do not say things like ‘your friend behaves better,’ etc.

Sources:

Celia Rodríguez Ruiz: El Valor de la Amistad, Educa y Aprende

Angel Sanchez Fuentes: El Verdadero Valor de la Amistad, Educapeques

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