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With a Friend by Your Side

Making friends (and keeping them!) is a skill. To some kids it comes naturally, others have to work on it. Here are some ways you can guide your children and give them the tools they need to develop friendships.

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Photograph by Jon Feingersh, Getty Images/Blend Images

Meeting New People

 

School, the playground, the library, and even the local toy store are places your kids can find potential friends. But, approaching someone you don't know can feel awkward to even the most outgoing children. If you find your kids are uneasy starting conversations, try role playing with them. Pretend you're someone new and have your kid approach you. It might seem strange at first, but these practice runs can really help! Be sure you encourage them to extend the conversation by asking questions and sharing experiences.

 

Talk to your kids about preconceptions. Point out that friends come in all shapes and sizes—some kids will look similar to you and others completely different. Explain that it’s impossible to know if you are compatible with another kid just by looking at them.

Being a Friend

Explain what it means to be a good friend by giving examples. 

  • Good friends do what they say they'll do.  
  • Good friends are there when you're happy and when you're sad. 
  • Good friends bring out the best in you. 
  • Good friends stay by your side. 
  • Good friends are generous with their things and their time. 

 

Ask your child what they like most about their friends. Explain that they can be a good friend by doing these things. Help them put these words into action.

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Photograph by Sharon Vos-Arnold, Getty Images/Flickr RF

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Photograph by Alan V. Young, Getty Images/Flickr RF

Most friendships, especially ones between children, have moments of tension. When difficulties arise, here are some questions to consider:

  • What happened to cause the disagreement? Sometimes reviewing the basics of an argument can make it seem trivial.
  • Is this a situation my child can handle on his / her own? Learning how to make up is an important part of developing friendship skills. And as difficult as it may be, often the best thing a parent can do is to step out of the way.
  • Can we wait it out? Sometimes the old adage "time heals all wounds" is true. Suggest to your child that he / she take a break from their friend for a while— just a few days until the initial sting of the disagreement dies down.

MORE ABOUT FRIENDSHIP FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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