Regardless of how old you are, making friends is an important aspect of life.

Friendships help children learn the social constructs of their culture, how to interact with others, manage conflict, and reconcile differences. Friendships that are based on mutual respect, kindness, and caring for one another are priceless and can be challenging to keep in tact. That is why, as a parent, it’s important to help your child create long-lasting friendships that are mutually beneficial and fulfilling.

You can role model this behaviour in your relationships with others as well as being a great steward of promoting loyalty to others. This article will share some ideas on how to encourage long-lasting friendships in childhood, but first we need to explore the importance of such friendships.

Fully understanding the context of a long-lasting friendship may be helpful in understanding the merit of encouraging your child to build relationships with others.

It’s important to have friends

Having friends is important to one’s self esteem and overall happiness in school and in life. When you are a child, you are still finding your way and developing your personality. Having friends can help in this process. When you are a child, having friends are not only a great creative outlet, but also serve as a support system, and a touch of comfort on a challenging day at school or on the school bus.

Having friends gives children the opportunity to socialise with others who are on the same developmental level which is why kids are so influential in how your child behaves.

Friendships teach values

In addition to sending your child to a great school such as Harmony Early Learning Centre that believes in teaching your child virtues that will be an important aspect of their character throughout their life.

Having friends can help a child learn how to deal manage life skills such as dealing with conflict, sharing, and forgiveness. In addition, having friends can bolster a child’s self esteem and make them feel included and wanted amongst their peers. As parents, we have to be careful in how we encourage a child to make friends. While society may dictate that the more friends that you have surrounding you, the better and more popular you are, this does not have to be the way you live.

Based on temperament, some children are better off with a few close friends instead of a large group of acquaintances. As a parent it’s important to remain neutral when it comes to how many friends your child has and just encourage them to make loyal, mutually beneficial friendships with other children.

Friends encourage creative play

Friendships encourage creative play, whether you are in school or playing with the neighbors on the weekends. When children get together, they have the opportunity to play developmentally appropriate games such as tag, hide-n-seek, and whatever else comes to mind. Pretend play can be impactful as well as a great deal of fun and encourages children to practice social skills in ways that they may not typically with family members.

6 ways that you can help your child create great friendships

1. Encourage your child to invite their friends over to play. One of the first places that your child will meet friends is at school. When your child comes home from school and is talking about a friend, ask your child if they have an interest in having their friend over to play at your home. This will allow your child to show their friend around your home and will give you the chance to meet the person your child continues to talk about after school.

2. Interact positively with the parent of your child’s friend. It’s a good idea to interact with your child’s friend’s parents. Getting to know the parents can make you feel more at ease when your child wants to go over to a friend’s house to play. These opportunities are important in building a long-lasting relationship as visiting another’s house is quite intimate and can be a sign of trust and great friendship.

3. Role model being a good friend. Your child looks up to you as a role model for everything, and developing friendships is no different. Think about how you interact with your friends. Do you role model behaviour that makes you a good friend? Would you be proud if your child emulated your behaviour when interacting with their childhood friends? These are important questions to ask yourself as your behaviour towards friends can greatly impact your child and how they act towards their friendships.

4. Help your child think of ways that they can be kind to their friends. Being kind is a great value that can be innate but is not always. Encourage your child to be kind towards their friendships. You can help your child be kind by taking them to their friend’s birthday party or asking your child about their friends after school. When attending a family even together at the school, ask your child to introduce you to their friend and exhibit kindness in your genuine desire to meet your child’s friend.

5. Console your child in times of need when a friendship goes bad. It can be tough to be a parent and watch your child go through a tumultuous relationship with a friend. Your child may be sad or experience feelings that you are unable to mend. Helping your child through a challenging time is important but be sure to do so without enabling your child as that will lessen the value of the important lesson they are in the midst of learning.

6. Allow your child to invite their friends to attend activities with them. By encouraging your child to invite friends to attend activities with them, you are helping to develop the relationship. When children experience things together, their friendship and relationship will strengthen over time. Here are some ideas of what your child can do with a friend that will help strengthen their relationship through shared experiences. :

  • Go to the library
  • Watch a movie
  • Go swimming
  • Play on the playground together
  • Hike in the woods

Final Thoughts

Developing friendships is important in the development of your child. Encouraging long-lasting friendships does not have to be time consuming or expensive. Encourage your child to invite their friends over or to attend activities together.

Get to know your child’s friend’s parents, role model being a good friend in your behaviour towards others, and actively help your child determine ways in which they can be kind and a good friend. Through your actions and encouragement, your child will learn to create mutually beneficial relationships with other children that will last a lifetime.