No matter how old you are, having friends is an important part of your health and well-being. When children have friends, they learn how to relate to others, have more self-confidence and perform better academically, according to KidsMatter, a mental health and wellbeing framework for primary schools and early childhood education and care services. You can help your child learn more about the positive social skills he needs for making and keeping friends by guiding him and providing him with opportunities for play that help him practice these skills. Having fun with some friendship games can actually help him with his social and emotional development.
One skill that children need to have in order to form positive friendships is the ability to take others' feelings into account. Play a game to help your child see how making someone else feel good can help him build friendships. Gather a small group of children in a circle and toss a beanbag to one of them. That child must say another child's name, greet him with a "hello" and then give him a compliment. Encourage the children to say things about their friends' personalities, such as "You make me laugh" or "You are a good listener." After the game, talk with your child about how good it feels when a friend says something nice about him.
Kids tend to view friends as those who have similar interests, so it can help build friendships when you play a game that shows children ways they are the same. To play this game, gather a group of children together and have them sit down. One kid will begin the game by calling out a statement about himself, such as "I like to ride my bike" or "I have a younger brother." If the statement is true for any of the other children, they should stand up and say, "That's me!" This game gets children on their feet and is an easy way for the kids to see the similarities in others. Your child may discover that he has more in common with a friend than he thought.
Cooperation Musical Chairs
Friends often have to cooperate to solve a conflict or work together. A game that promotes cooperation among children is the classic game of musical chairs with a twist. Have a group of children form a circle of chairs, with one chair for each kiddo. Play upbeat music and have them walk around the chairs until the music stops, and then they have to find a chair to sit in. With each round, remove one chair, but all of the children will still play. Each time the music stops, they will have to find a way to fit into the decreasing number of chairs. This will encourage them to share the chairs, and talk with each other about how they can all find a place to sit. By the end of the game, they will be giggling with excitement as they work to fit into the one remaining chair.
Trust is an essential part of a friendship. One game that can help build this trust involves children forming two parallel lines to make a path for another kid to run through. The children making the path extend their arms toward each other to block the way for the person running. When the child begins to run through the lines, the other children must drop their arms just before he runs through them. He will learn to trust that his friends will clear the way for him as he moves through the path. As children begin to trust each other, they will be able to move more quickly through the path.
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