Friendship is a wonderful thing. From infancy through adulthood, our children will have many friends. Some will be friends forever and some will come in and out of our lives. All of these relationships are important.
Here are some key points to share with your child on how to be a good friend.
- Model good friend behavior – It’s the same old story…our children watch what we do. Be a good friend. Bring a sick friend dinner, help an elderly neighbor carry in groceries, bring a friend that needs some cheering up a flower. Random acts of kindness go a long way in friendship.
- Be Yourself – Be the best you that you can be. Do not change who you are to be like your friend. If your friend doesn’t like you how you are, they are not a friend.
- Invite friends to your house – As a parent, this is a great way to not only get to know your children’s friends but to help young children learn how to play together. It’s a good idea to speak with your child ahead of time and come up with some ideas of what to play. Also, sharing often becomes an issue with young children. I talk to my children about sharing and then ask them if there are any toys they do not want to share before the play date. If there are toys they don’t want to share, I hide them away during the play date.
- Help young children work through differences – Young children will have limited skills to work through problems. You need to teach them to remain calm. I tell my children to find an adult to help with the problem before it escalates to something physical like hitting or biting. This isn’t always possible. Do not be embarrassed if your child is the one that bites or hits. This will happen and has happened to many of us. Address it immediately with your child.
- Be Friendly - Always be friendly and say hello to people. Keep a smile on your face. It is amazing how a smile and a hello will just make people smile.
- Be Loyal – Be a true blue friend. Be there for your friend when they need you and do not gossip. If your friend tells you something in confidence, that is as far as it should go (unless your friend is in trouble and you need to tell an adult.)
- Be Positive – We all know it is much more fun to spend time with happy people then sad or angry people. Encourage your child to be happy and not sweat the small stuff.
I asked my children what it means to be a good friend and here is what they said,
My four year old says, “You don’t be mean.”
My seven year old says, “To play with them and be nice to them.”
My nine year old says, “By putting effort in and including everyone and being nice.”
How do you help your children be a good friend?