It’s important to remember that your children learn their most valuable skills from you. Here’s how to teach your child about being a good friend.
Friends are the family we choose. They help enrich our lives and support us through the trials and tribulations of daily life. However, being a good friend is something we need to learn.
So, how do you teach your kids about how to be a great friend? Here are some hints and activities to help you teach this valuable lesson.
Lead By Example
Kids are natural-born mimickers. Think about how many times you have heard them copy something you have said or done. So, why not use this to help you teach valuable lessons on friendships to your toddler.
Let them play nearby when you are having a friend over for a cup of coffee. Praise your friends in front of your children. Make sure they see you doing kind things for your friends.
This will set the stage for any little ones in your life to see the positive ways friends interact.
Read Books About Friendship
Not only is reading a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your child, but it can also help you teach them about being a good friend. Plus, there’s an almost never-ending supply of children’s books on friendship.
Here are some great choices:
1: Frog and Toad
These books show how friends who have very different personalities can work together and build each up other in positive ways. It also demonstrates the importance of sharing, listening, and being supportive.
2: George and Martha
A favorite of parents and youngsters alike, this book teaches kids about the importance of boundaries, why practical jokes aren’t always funny, and how sometimes the best times you can have with a friend is simply sitting around doing nothing.
This charming story is about accepting friends for who they are and not trying to change them. It is about celebrating differences and loving your friends for who they are and not what you want them to be.
Talk To Them About What Makes A Good Friend
Having frank conversations with your preschooler about what makes a great friend is one way to make sure they really understand what that means. By highlighting that good friends share, listen to each other, use kind language, and remember important details about each other, you are explaining the traits your child can strive to develop.
Having clear examples like “doesn’t it feel nice when someone tells you ‘good job’?” or “thank you for sharing your toy with me. It makes me happy when you do that” can help children grasp these concepts.
You can also use holidays like the international day of friendship and even Valentine’s Day to teach them about celebrating friendship. This is a great chance to show them how days like this can remind us to let the people in our lives know how much they mean to us.
How To Make Friends
Making friends when you’re young can be easy for some children. They simply approach a peer and ask to be their friend. Other children may find it a bit more difficult.
One way to help timid kids is to role play meeting new people. By having it be part of make-believe time and turning it into a game, you are taking the pressure off your child and turning the idea of making friends into a fun activity.
Or get them to practice saying “hello” to other children. Then move on to asking them if they want to play. Once children start talking and play with each other, friendship grows quickly.
We all know it is easier to be friends with someone who is kind. So, by teaching your children how to be kind and compassionate people you will help them to create lasting bonds with friends.
Get in the habit of saying please and thank you when you ask your child to do something for you. This will give them positive behaviors to model and help reinforce how to talk to people in a kind way.
Also, be sure to praise them when they remember their good manners. It is amazing how a simple “I really like it when you say (insert kind word here)” or “Thank you for remembering to (a kind word here)”. It makes me happy when you do that” can help to solidify how important kindness is to young children.
Talk About Emotions, Even the Negative Ones
Talking about different emotions, especially negative ones, can actually help kids create meaningful relationships. By acknowledging that everyone feels sad, angry, hurt, or frustrated helps to ensure your child understands this is a normal part of life.
Plus, when they are able to discuss these feelings in a positive and productive way, instead of acting out, they are learning how to be more empathetic and loving toward others. It turns out having emotional self-control helps us to identify emotions in others and put ourselves in their shoes, an important skill when it comes to forming friendships.
It also helps with problem-solving skills. When children are able to identify negative emotions, they are able to narrow down why they are feeling that way and figure out how to overcome it.
This is useful when it comes to conflict resolution in relationships. They are able to speak up for themselves when something goes wrong or they are hurt instead of lashing out and making the situation worse.
Being A Good Friend
These are just a few tips on how to teach your child about being a good friend. There are plenty of other great resources from books to websites to television shows available to help you.
For more great parenting guides, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.