Teaching Kids About Choosing Friends
Kids’ friendships: we don’t often think about it until it becomes a big issue, say if your child is having trouble making friends, or is in a troublesome friendship. It’s important to teach kids along the way about the how’s and the why’s of choosing friends.
Even as adults we sometimes have trouble choosing good friends. That process can be harder for kids. As a parent, you can help your child navigate the waters of friendship.
Teach your child what a good friend is
Teaching kids about choosing friends is very important. Teach your child what a good friend is like…what to look out for in a friend, as well as red flags that a friend is a bad influence. Ask your child how his or her day was every day, and point out any friendship experiences that stand out.
Let your child know that if a “friend” encourages them to break rules or harm themselves or others, they are not a real friend. And that connects with the next point below, teaching kids to recognize bullying.
Teach your child to recognize bullying
Bullying has come to the forefront of awareness in recent years, but that doesn’t mean your child (or even you) will always be able to recognize when it’s happening. Talk often to your kids about their friendships, both those at school and at home.
Teach your child about bullying. Take note of anything suspicious. Let your child know that bullying is not always overt. Tell your child that if he or she is ever made to feel uncomfortable or sad by a friend’s words or actions, he or she should speak up and let the other child know. And if it continues, that “friend” is not a true friend.
Be a good role model for friendship
Letting your child see your own healthy friendships is a very important step in helping him or her form her own. Make use of teachable moments such as being understanding if a friend needs to cancel plans, and talk about what makes your friends, your friends.
How did you meet? Why do you like them? What are your similarities and differences, and were there any rough patches and what did you learn from those? Talking about relatable moments from your childhood friendships can help too, as well as talking about times you had to end a friendship that was a bad influence on you.
Facilitate good friendships
When you notice your child has a friend that has a positive influence on your child and exhibits qualities you’d like your child to have, consider asking that child’s parents about a play date. Helping to foster wholesome friendships can help stave off questionable ones now or in the future.
Teaching kids about choosing friends is essential so that, by the time he or she is a teen and making mostly their own choices regarding friends, they will hopefully make the right ones. The biggest tip in all of this: open lines of communication. Always ask your child about their day and talk about any negative or positive friendship experiences.