Developing friendships is a good way for children to form stronger attachment with their environment, including school. Friendships nourish the development of social skills like empathy, listening, negotiating, speaking tactfully, and “learning the ropes” about interacting with others.
At 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers, we heartily encourage childhood friendships from an early age on.
You can help your children form meaningful friendships by setting an example through your own social interactions. As you welcome friends into your home, speak to them on the phone or in person, and attend events together, you are helping to set the pattern for how your child will behave toward others they care about.
Here are some tips for guiding your children on ways to form meaningful friendships:
- At school events, talk to your children’s friends. Address them by their names. Introduce yourself to their parents.
- Encourage get-togethers between your children and their friends within reason. Let them know when they are welcome to visit, and likewise allow your children to visit their friends. Make sure an adult will be present, and find out when the visit will be over.
- Advise friends’ parents about what activities the children will be engaged in while at your home, and reassure them that an adult will be present. Let them know the times when the visit will begin and end and discuss any special circumstances like unusual diets, allergies, or pets.
- Use gentle encouragement with your shy child. Give him opportunities to be in variety of settings and talk to people of different ages. Offer him the chance to socialize one-on-one with cousins or neighbors of similar ages. Allow him to struggle a bit before stepping in. For example, avoid intervening with an answer too quickly after someone has asked him a question.
The reward for your children, with your subtle oversight, will be hours of enjoyment and a broader view of life’s positive experiences at home and at school.