A skill for a lifetime: Being a good friend
Updated: Jul 25, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Now more than ever, friends play a significant role in determining your child’s level of self-esteem and social skills. Building a friendship, let alone maintaining it, takes hard work. Therefore, it is important for parents to prepare our children with the “tools” they need to enjoy long-lasting friendships.
And this, starts with being a good friend themselves. Here's how to start :
1. Be empathetic.
Sometimes all your child needs is for you to listen and acknowledge his feelings. Create a mutual understanding on the qualities that constitute a good and bad friend; knowing that he should translate that into his interactions with people is arguably the most important step to securing friendships. Through your support, he's also more likely to open up to you in the future. You’re probably already talking to your child about this at home, so keep it up!
2. Model good friendship behaviour.
Children learn the most through their parents’ actions. So if they see and hear you reaching out to friends to check in, surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people, and investing time and energy into your friendships, they're likely to do the same.
3. Read books about friendship.
It comes as no surprise that ‘friendship’ is a recurring theme in children’s books. Learning how to navigate friendship problems is often made easier when approaching the topic first with a book because children tend to relate to the characters better.
Franklin's Flying Bookshop stands out for being able to combine the love reading as a common ground in making friends. It reminds us that people come in all shapes and sizes, beliefs and personalities, and we should appreciate them equally. Similarly, Come With Me champions the power of kindness and bravery in a friendship in the face of uncertainty. A couple of other stories from the new additions to the Collection family that we believe are worth sharing with you are: Goodnight Already! and Lunette, The True Story of the Tooth Fairy for its ability to mesmerise younger kids with its underlying message while still keeping a lighthearted tone.
4. Create opportunities for friendships to grow.
It is good to explore the topic of friendship with your child from an early age because it is a life skill that doesn’t come naturally for everyone. As such, you can help set the stage for friendships to grow by arranging playdates with their friends of similar interests or involving them in some fun after-school activities. Inviting your friends with children of a similar age over to your house is also a great way to spend time with other children and actively reflect on what makes a good friend.
5. Teach conflict resolution.
Friends don't always get along perfectly. And a friendship fallout can have a detrimental effect on your child’s emotional growth, which is why talking to him/ her about how to make up after a disagreement is key. For one, accepting responsibility for our own mistakes, apologising, and moving forward in a positive direction are key skills for friendships and relationships in general. However, it is important to realise that our children’s emotions should not be taken advantage of unreasonably, and then imparting the importance of standing up for themselves to them.