Friendship means everything to children. While some are naturally gifted with magnetic personalities and inherent kindness, most have to work on their friendship skills. Making friends helps children understand who they are and their place in the world. It’s important that they know what makes people happy and what might upset others. Here are a few ways we recommend teaching your child about friendship:
Learning Through Stories
Books and movies are great teaching tools for learning about friendship. Sentimental classics like E.T. and modern adventure stories like Big Hero 6 show different forms of friendship and how they all have similar roots. Books like Winnie the Pooh give children heartwarming perspectives on how different kinds of people (or in this case, people and animals) can be friends.
Sharing is Caring
One important lesson that children need to learn is the importance of sharing. This can be a difficult concept for children to master, especially younger ones. Start by showing your child how to share simple things like pencils, markers and crayons. If they refuse, ask how they feel when other children don’t share with them. This can help them understand another important friendship skill: empathy.
One of the most important ways to teach empathy is by modeling it in your own life. Laugh with your child, cry with your child, and encourage them to do the same for others. When your child is upset by another’s actions, help them see it from the other person’s point of view. Even if your child struggles to see other perspectives, they’ll at least know the basics: cheer on others in good times, and be there for others in bad times. To get a deeper understanding of other perspectives, another key lesson is to learn when to talk and when to listen.
Learning to Listen
No one likes being around someone who never listens or never talks. Finding a balance is important. Quiet and talkative children alike can benefit from learning to ask questions. Asking other children about themselves is a great way to show interest. It also gives your child a chance to relate, remember the information and recall it in later conversations. The more children understand each other, the more room there is for deep, meaningful friendships. Once they find out what their friends are interested in, they can invite them to be part of their lives.
Inviting Others Along
Children see their friends at school every day, whether it’s online or in person. However, they can’t depend on the times they’ll automatically see each other to build strong relationships. Children need to take initiative to keep friendships going. Sitting by new friends during lunch or inviting friends over after school can allow children to deepen their current friendships and create new ones. This also helps children who may not take this initiative themselves feel included.
Learning about being a good friend from a young age can help children grow into compassionate adults. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando encourages children to live in their faith. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.