Keeping Friends

Growing YearsMaking and keeping friends requires skills that you should help your child develop. Friendships are necessary for your child to be happy and content in their world, thus teaching and encouraging these skills is important for parents and caregivers. Helping your child make and keep friends, is well worth the energy put into it. Children need friends to develop feelings of self-worth. As a parent it is your job to give your child the skills necessary for the task. In teaching these skills, you are also teaching integrity and character, skills necessary to a happy and productive adult.

Encourage your child to march to his/her own drummer (be real). Empower your child with the confidence to know that he/she is unique and special (like no other). Teach your child to value their uniqueness, and not become a carbon copy of someone else. Fitting in, is fine, but encourage your child to bring something unique to the group. Teach your child to follow his//her instincts, and be true to them.

Encourage honesty. Beware of making promises. Teach your child not to promise things that cannot done. Think before promising. Keep promises that are made. Teach your child to not lie by rewarding the truth and correcting the lie. Practice honesty at home. Beware of what you promise to your child and follow through with what you say. If something comes up that prevents you from keeping a promise, make sure you discuss it with your child, respecting their feelings.

Encourage loyalty. If others are talking about a friend, your child should ignore the conversation and move away from the group. Never indulge in gossip about a friend, and do not feel the need to tell the friend about the gossip, as it may serve to only hurt their feelings. This applies even when you are angry at a friend. Never gossip or back-stab! Never say anything about your friend that you would not be prepared to repeat to their face. If a friend tells you something in confidence, don’t talk about it to anyone else. If the confidence is something that can harmful to the friend, tell your child to share it with you, and then use your adult discretion to determine what must be done, if anything.

Teach your child to be respectful. Good friends respect one another and show this by being openly and mutually supportive. Teach your child how to be a good listener by demonstrating how you listen to him/her. Teach it is OK to disagree if you are friends, and to respect other beliefs. Teach how to compromise in a relationship, not always demanding things go their way. Teach turn taking (especially important to the “only child”).

Your child should learn to hate actions, not people. When someone does something we do not like, it is the action we do not like, not the person. This seems simple, but it is very important that we teach tolerance. Tolerance makes your child more desirable as a friend.

Teach your child to share. Children who share with others gain friends. Sharing is an important factor in making and keeping friends.

It is important that your child knows how to allow friends to bring others into the friendship circle. The bigger the friendship circle, the better. Teach that jealously is undesirable in a friendship.