Finding a new friend is tough at any age, but especially difficult as a young child.
This is your child’s first time to practice the art of caring for others, playing with others, and the “give and take” of a really good friendship.
There are grown adults that struggle with those skills, so how can we expect our children to do it.
Well, your child has something that no one else has… they have an awesome parent like you to help guide them through this scary stage.
Here are 4 ideas to help your child develop new friendships.
First, teach your child to look for a friend with similar interests. Without this direction your child will most likely try to be friend with the most popular, outgoing, or athletic children in their class. Help them to look past that obvious stuff, and choose a friend that defines “fun” in a similar way as them. If your child loves sports then they are looking for an athletic friend. If your child loves imaginary play, then they are looking for the kid on the playground turning a stick into a sword with their imagination.
Second, Teach your child to be friendly. We are all naturally selfish. So don’t be surprised when your child tries to make their new friendships all about them. You’ll need to teach your child to take turns with their friend and let them choose what to play. You’ll also need to teach your child to ask their friend questions about their life, and to offer a sincere compliment. These are amazing life skills and this is a great time to practice them.
Third, Encourage your child to have a variety of friends. Explain that it’s okay to have more than one friend and to have different kinds of friends. Your child may have a video game friend, a lunchroom friend and a friend who likes to climb trees. And there’s no reason to force someone to choose between friends. Instead, encourage your child to try to get along with the friends of his new friends. They might as well learn now that it’s unfair to expect our friends to only be friends with us.
Finally, my favorite way to teach your child about friendships is to let them watch you with your friends. Tell them the story of your friendships. Tell them how you became friends. Let them ask your friends questions about the type of friend you are. This models for your child the reward of building meaningful friendships.
One of the best gifts God gives us in life is a real friend. By helping your child learn how to be a friend, you are opening a world of joy and fellowship to them that will last a lifetime.