7 Ways to Teach Your Child to Be a Good Friend
Studies have shown friendship to have a positive effect on one’s mental and physical health, school performance, and self-esteem. Therefore, teaching your children how to develop friendships is essential to their overall well-being. However, while you may think friendship is something that comes naturally, children need to be taught how to be a good friend and how to nourish their friendships.
1. Model Friendship
First, you must model friendship. The best way for children to learn to be a good friend is to see their parent acting as a good friend. When your children see you interacting with your friends, they are paying attention. How often (or how little) you communicate with your friends and how you speak to one another speaks volume to your children.
2. Discuss What Makes a Good Friend
Take time to discuss what makes a good friend with your children. Be careful to point out clear aspects of one’s character such as being kind or funny. Some children also learn well from providing opposite examples, such as what makes a bad friend. This discussion will change depending on your child’s age.
3. Give Them Opportunities to Socialize
For your children to develop friendships, you must give them opportunities to socialize. Learning to be a good friend takes practice – especially for little ones. For example, children need to have chances to learn to share with friends and be kind to others. As your children grow, you must also recognize that true friends value the time they spend with one another, so allowing your child to spend time with their friends is important for nourishing these relationships.
4. Help Them Become Good Listeners
One of the most important qualities of a good friend is the ability to listen well. Begin teaching your children how to be good listeners from the time they are little. Teach them to look people in the eye and to allow people to speak before commenting. As they get older, teach them that listening also means paying attention to body language.
5. Teach Them How to Resolve Conflicts
Friendship does not come without conflict; therefore, you must teach your children how to handle conflict respectfully. Children must learn how to stand up for themselves, set boundaries, as well as how to admit when they are wrong and apologize.
6. Read Books About Friendship
Sometimes the best examples of friendship are found in books. From the time your children are little, read books about friendships and point out what makes the characters good friends. No matter what friendship issue your child is facing, even as they grow up, there is a book character in a comparable situation.
7. Praise Their Positive Friendship Traits
When you see your child being a good friend, praise him or her. Let them know you noticed and why you think that matters. Emphasize that those are the types of qualities that friends appreciate the most. Children often respond more to positive affirmation than lectures.
Parents play a significant role in encouraging their children’s friendships. Just imagine what the world would be like if all parents recognized the importance of teaching their children to be good friends.