Once your children reach school-age, there are entirely new challenges to face as a parent when your child is suddenly thrust into a new environment where they have to learn how to deal with all sorts of different personalities. It’s an exciting time as they get to meet their peers and make new friends, but it can also be a little confusing and chaotic as they learn to navigate a new environment. One way to ensure that they thrive in that new environment is by teaching them how to be a good friend.
So, how do we do that? These are the rules in our house:
Be kind – We never speak harshly to our friends, we’re polite and we use kind words to support them.
Keep your promises – When you make a promise, stick to it. Your friends should be able to value and trust your words.
Be honest – Always tell the truth. Friends don’t tell lies.
Say you’re sorry when you make a mistake – Nobody is perfect, but being a good friend means apologizing if you’ve done something that hurt someone else’s feelings.
Be patient – Friends aren’t quick to anger.
Share – The best part of having friends is having people to share in the fun!
Always offer help to your friends – Sometimes friends need a helping hand; help them clean up their toys or solve a problem.
Always say thank you – When your friends help you, always say thank you and let them know you appreciate and love them!
It’s important to start teaching these values at a young age and encourage your children to socialize with other children. Developing your children’s social skills early on will solidify the friendship traits you are trying to teach them, as they will have more experience to draw from and an environment in which to practice those skills. Set up play dates with your friends who have children, or find an activity to enroll them in. This will give them valuable exposure to young friendships and prepare them for those school-age friendships that are so important to childhood development. One great way to generate discussion about behavior is to ask, “Are you being a good friend?” Let your children evaluate their actions based on the lessons you’re teaching. Encouraging self-awareness will help them make good choices as they mature!
And while teaching these values at a young age and encouraging the development of social skills is so important, the most important way to teach your child to be a good friend is by BEING a good friend. I know you’re busy – motherhood can take a lot out of you – and sometimes it’s easy to neglect the people in our lives who we don’t see on a regular basis. You get caught up in the daily crazy of parenthood and work and life in general, and, before you know it, months have gone by and you can’t remember the last time you grabbed a coffee with your bestie! Maintaining healthy friendships is not only important for your well-being, but it will benefit your children and teach them valuable lessons to help them as they start to spend more time with their peers. So, while trying to teach your children to be good friends, it’s also important to as yourself “Am I being a good friend?”