- Why is friendship important in kids?
- What are the top 5 benefits of friendship in kids?
- What are 3 key skills a child needs to create and maintain a friendship?
- What to do when your child has no friends
As you watch your child take bigger steps into the world, it’s inevitable that they’ll start making friends and creating their own friendship groups. And while this is something they’ll learn to navigate without your complete guidance, you can still make sure they’re headed in the right direction. Keep reading to discover how friendships benefit your child and what skills they need to make and keep them – which is where you come in…
Why is friendship important in kids?
Adults will have come to know and understand the importance of friendships. It has even been said that friends are the family that we choose; not only do they bring us immense highs and magical memories, but they also offer a special feeling of – no matter what – there is a someone who was and is never obligated to love and care for you but does so because they think you’re awesome. 🥰
So, why is friendship so important? Well, in children, there has been significant research that shows childhood friendships help with the development of social skills and, therefore, the growth and quality of relationships later in life. They also positively influence academic performance at school, and help your child develop a range of vital life skills that will serve them throughout childhood and beyond.
Here are the top five benefits of friendship kids and parents need to know.
What are the top 5 benefits of childhood friendships?
A feeling of belonging
While we admire children for being resilient, it’s still tough out there! Which is why having their own crew is so important. Outside of the comforts of the family home, children need to create connections to make them feel secure and a part of something. In fact, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist who was famous for his theories on motivation), ‘love and belonging’ come third only after ‘physiological needs’ and ‘safety needs’.
Higher self esteem
Meeting new people and making friends with them feels great for several reasons, one of them being that those people obviously like us. When your child experiences this, their self-esteem is likely to be boosted and they will feel more positive in general. This can affect everything, from behaviour at home to school performance and making more meaningful mates and being confident. 😁
Support in hard times
There’s a lot to be said for having a special friend by your side when times get tough – and this is especially true for children as they start to experience life’s lows. Bullying, divorce, insecurity – whatever your child is going through, having a support bubble they can turn to will make them feel like they’re not alone.
It’s good to talk
There’s nothing better than spending time with friends and having a nice long chat, is there? As your child forges new friendships and nurtures current ones, they’re continuously learning how to make conversations and keep them going. They’ll also be learning and sharing new words, phrases and ways of expressing themselves. They’ll probably be picking up some swear words too, so it’s best if you nip those in the bud ASAP! 🤐
Just like a good vent makes us feel better when we get it out of our system, your child will feel the same having someone to speak to about the stresses of life. Friends will act as soundboards for them, and when that’s reciprocated by their friends letting out their own woes too, your child will feel important for being their soundboard. 👂
What are 3 key skills a child needs to create and maintain friendships?
Finding the right people
Finding people who are good for you and avoiding people who aren’t is a necessary life skill so that you don’t end up with bad friends and even worse partners. Your child needs to be able to understand when certain people or groups are not for them, and how to leave. Children sometimes gravitate towards the "popular" kids at school, but just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re the right friends for your child.
An important communication skill, learning to ask questions and keep a conversation going is key to maintaining friendships. Your child should know that showing an interest in their friends will make their friends feel valued and seen. Encourage your child to 1) ask questions 2) listen, and 3) ask follow-up questions. This is a simple formula that will hopefully ensure your child becomes a great conversationalist!
Showing positive behaviour
No one wants to be friends with the class grump, so it’s important for your child to express themselves – verbally and non-verbally – as positively as they can. Smiling, making eye contact, keeping an open stance when talking to others and being confident are all great ways your child can show others that they’re friendly and approachable. 😇
What to do when your child has no friends
It can be hard to know what to do when your child has no friends. If you know or suspect this is the case, it’s a good idea to speak with their teachers to see what’s happening at school. Teachers observe a lot and may be able to offer some insight into why your child is having friendship troubles.
Once you have a clearer understanding from the teachers, speak to your child directly. While it’s possible your child is shy and needs to work on their confidence, it’s also possible that they’re being bullied. Either way, encourage open communication lines so your child knows that your ‘talking time’ together is a safe space.
Sometimes, making friends at school can be super difficult, especially if your child doesn’t feel like they have anything in common with the other children. If this is so, suggest that they take part in extracurricular activities that match their interests. Not only will this make them happier, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for your child to practice their social skills in the hope that they can put them to work at school. 🤓