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September Blog 2023: Friends

September 4, 2023

Friends

 

Making friends

 

Making friends is a social skill which children will need in later life. This is an important and healthy development. It helps us create a sense of belonging and security and reduces stress.

 

Children will generally start making their own friends when they start nursery, at around three years old. Before this they will have been playing alongside other children. Depending on the family set-up, they may have played with siblings, cousins, or your own friends’ children.

Through friendships children will learn the art of sharing, turn-taking, cooperation, listening to others, and managing disagreements.

 

How can you help your child develop friendships?

 

Celebrate your child for who they are. Be realistic and accepting of your child’s unique personality and temperament, which guides how much social interaction they seek. Social situations might be easy or difficult for you. This doesn’t mean it will be the same for your child. As long as your child is happy and well adjusted, that’s good. Do not force friendships, as this is sure to backfire.

 

Be a positive role model. Every time you interact with others, your child is aware, whether you’re saying hello to someone as you pass by, in a shop, or strike up a conversation with your neighbour. Every situation is a learning opportunity for your child to see how you join in a conversation.

 

  • Have your own friendships.
  • Show your pleasure in friendships.
  • Invite friends into your home.
  • Encourage your child to have playdates. These might be in the park or going to the woods. It is always good to start on neutral territory, where there is plenty of space.
  • Teach your child to share.
  • Encourage your child to join in games. Winning and losing graciously is a skill you can model, and your child can practise during family activities.
  • Have positive attitudes to your child’s friends. Don’t be judgemental.
  • You can start by talking with your child about who they play with, why they like playing with them and what they like to play.
  • Read books: Look for books that feature friendships, compassion, sharing, inclusion, and books that encourage self-love and self-esteem. Talk about how the characters may be feeling.

 

Making friends is a gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight. It involves many important social-emotional skills such as self-awareness, empathy, problem-solving, and communication.

 

As children start to make friends, celebrate, and support their small successes.