Friendships can be very powerful, especially at a young age. Forming positive relationships can give children a sense of belonging, to make them feel like they are loved and cared about in a world outside of their home. Friendships help children, especially young girls, grow their self-esteem and establish their sense of self.
Likely, the first new friends your child will make will be at school. This is probably one of the first times they’re on their own – it’s their first opportunity to become more independent. By building new friendships, they’re developing social skills and learning empathy for one another.
But how do we prepare our kids to be able to make friends? It’s important to model friendship skills and to teach the importance of boundaries. You must respect your child’s personality and encourage them to establish friendships that are important to them.
Modeling Friendship Skills
Our children will learn what we teach them and inadvertently also learn things we don’t intend to teach. It is important to model relationship skills with your partner, your friends, siblings, coworkers, etc. Be conscious of who you interact with, and always show them respect. Teach your children that it is okay to disagree with each other, but it is important to be respectful of what the other person wants and needs.
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
It is essential from a young age to teach our children, especially our daughters, to set boundaries, and to be vocal about protecting them. If she doesn’t want to play a game or wants to play by herself, she needs to say so. She is allowed to say no and know that her boundaries will be respected. Likewise, it is important to respect another child’s boundaries as well.
Respect Your Child’s Personality
Of course, as a parent, you have ideas about how your child will act, how they’ll play, what they’ll do and won’t do. It is important to understand that your son or daughter has a unique personality and to encourage their autonomy and independence. Allow them to make choices that feel right to them, if they are safe and within reason.
Research has shown that establishing friendships is a crucial part of development. These relationships teach children empathy and how to understand the feelings and emotions of others. Friendships help them grow and develop outside of the home, can help grow their confidence, and instill a sense of self-love. There are countless benefits to having healthy, loving friendships. We must teach our sons and daughters what it means to be a friend, and how to make long-lasting friendships.