Friends for Keeps
How Parents Can Support Their Children’s Friendships
Photo by @threelittlebao on Instagram
Friends are like an extension of our family. While we don’t share the same blood, we share a lot of experiences and memories together. They make us happy when times are hard, and they are ready to provide support when we need a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold. Being with friends makes people feel like they are at home – an environment where they are comfortable, safe, and loved.
Having friends is not just good for the soul. Research shows that establishing friendships should be an important developmental goal for children under the age of seven. Friendships formed during the earlier phases of one’s life, particularly preschool and early school years, will result to kids having valuable contexts that will allow them to develop and practice social, cognitive, communicative, and emotional skills.
It is only natural for parents to be supportive of friendships that promote their children’s growth and welfare. However, they should also be aware of other interactions that their kids may have outside the home, just to make sure that their children are establishing connections that would only be beneficial in their journey to become successful and well-mannered adults. Here are ways to help your children nurture friendships that enrich their lives:
Make an effort to know your child’s friends. Knowing who is in your kid’s circle of friends should give you an impression of the kind of personality that your child is developing. It also makes it easier to identify who to reach out to in case of emergencies.
Set playdates. Arrange for a time where you can join your kid in playing with their friends. Being present in these sessions not only shows that you care but also enables you to see how your child behaves with their friends.
Invite their friends to your home. Extend your hospitality to your child’s friends by hosting them in your residence. This should assure you that your kids and their pals are in a safe place and are well taken care of.
Offer advice during conflicts. When your child comes to you to seek guidance on how to deal with an argument concerning their friend, listen to their story before passing judgment. Try to be objective but learn to trust in the decisions that your children will make.
Coach children about maintaining friendships. Draw from your own experience and share how you are able to make things work with your own set of friends. Tell them the importance of opening their heart to others while keeping old friends close, too.
A friend is a blessing. Along with family, friends make life more meaningful. When you come across one who has the same ideals and is willing to stay by your side for as long as it takes, you don’t let them go.