Teach Your Child to Be the Kind of Friend He'd Like to Have
You’re the first friend your child will ever have! And you’ve probably already set an awesome example of what one is: considerate, caring, dependable and fun. But how do you teach your children how to be good friends? Start with that first example.
Model Good Behavior
It’s not just about how you treat them; it’s also about how you treat your own friends. Do you make time for them? Do you enjoy their company and make sure your kids understand how important they are to you? It doesn’t matter if you’ve had them your whole life or if you met them because of your children’s play dates. Follow the golden rule and treat your own friends the way you want to be treated. Your children are watching.
Find Stories With Examples
Harry Potter, Hermione and Ron take care of each other through every adventure. So does the gang on Sesame Street. There are plenty of examples of groups of friends in storybooks and on television and movies where the hero wins because he has the backing of his best buddies. Engage in some active reading and viewing, pointing out great friendships and the qualities that make them work.
Pay Attention to Their Interactions
Especially when they’re young, you get to see just how well your children treat their friends. Guide them to best behaviors, taking turns, sharing, listening and respecting their friends’ feelings. When they’re little, it’s easier to mold them into the kind of friends you’d like them to become.
Try Some Team Building Activities
Do your kids play sports? Team sports can be the perfect setting to learn about friendship since everyone is interested in the same end goal, and an individual’s success can help lead to team victory. But there are also plenty of ways to learn about that camaraderie off the field. Playground games like jump rope and catch, and sandbox activities where everyone builds the same sandy city, can be team-building activities. All for one and one for all!
It might be easy to exclude the quiet kid in the corner or the one who has a habit or two that seems a bit odd. But one of the best ways to be a good friend is for your child to be more open-minded to just who her friends might be. A broad circle can help your child in the short term and for years to come. Remind her that she may have more in common with someone than she thinks. Maybe a child with a physical disability has the same hobby as your child. Or maybe he’s just an awesome kid your kid would be lucky to know.
Even before they can speak, babies have empathy and compassion for others. Studies have shown that humans are born with moral codes that include an innate ability to understand right from wrong. It’s up to you to help your children hone this sense of justice that serves as the foundation to all healthy relationships. Let them know that their actions have consequences, for good and bad. If they want to have good friends, they need to be good friends.
Linda Emma is a journalist, freelance writer, and parent. She has been writing for parenting-focused websites and blogs for more than a decade. She also works in digital marketing and at Endicott College as a learning consultant.