Purposeful Parenting – Part 4
Encourage your child to make friends! The benefits are numerous! Friendships will help them develop in many areas of their social and emotional learning. Playing with peers develops your child’s imagination and creativity. It helps them with decision-making since parental micromanaging is not in the picture. By interacting with their friends, children find a sense of belonging which in turn, helps decrease the stress they might feel in social situations.
Experts say that meaningful relationships between friends form at about 4-5 years old. Unless you have the little “social butterfly”, you may need to give guidance to your child when it comes to making friends. Here’s some ideas how:
Recognize their strengths – By noticing what your child does best, you can build their confidence in going forward to make friends. You can also talk to them about communicating with other kids to find out things they have in common. Schedule play dates with kids who are compatible with them.
Role play – Teach your child how to meet a new potential friend. Give them something to say to introduce themselves and questions they can ask. Practice this with them.
Teach them friendship qualities – Friends are happy when the other has accomplishments or celebrations. Friends don’t gossip behind each other’s backs. Friends offer help, understanding and compassion when the other is feeling down and discouraged. Friends aren’t afraid to include others in the circle of friends—no bullying! Friends work things out in an argument.
Model friendship – Children will learn most from their parents’ behavior and example. What you do with your friendships will speak louder than all the words you can say to your child. When they see you in healthy friendships, they will mimic what you do and how you treat your friends. Your efforts in helping your child develop friendships will result in them being fulfilled and well-adjusted.