Children know how to be friends. They understand closeness and know how to use their natural empathy. They distance themselves when a friend betrays them, but are also capable of forgiveness. Resuming the friendship from where it was interrupted.
Over time, in this society in which we walk an increasingly solitary path, they may keep to themselves. Losing ground in social skills and becoming introverted teenagers.
It is up to us as parents to stimulate our children, so that some modes of behaviour do not fall by the wayside. Children know what friendship is and we should start from there.
Friendship understood as pure and disinterested affection. Friendship experienced as sharing. Of things, of feelings, of life. An important value that I have always wanted to convey to my son. A big risk, especially for only children, is precisely that of focusing on oneself.
How to teach children the value of friendship, to help them make their universe even bigger and richer?
Here are 10 tips to make it happen.
1) First of all we should try to never compare our children to their peers. There is a right moment to connect and kids know when it’s time to reach out to each other. If they do not succeed, we must respect their pace and their needs without making them feel inadequate.
2) Create opportunities for play, in a small or large group. With others, trial and error is important to develop good relationships.
3) Gently persuade them to lend their toys, to be generous with others. Taking care of their belongings and learning to share them is paramount. If they succeed, we should use encouraging words to reinforce positive behaviour.
4) Provide them with play spaces. Inviting friends to their home can help children to experience peer relationships.
5) Likewise let them visit other people’s homes. So they can carry out their relationships without us. Independently.
6) Children learn from us. It is important that we talk about our friends, showing that we’re welcoming and helpful, if we want our children to be comfortable with others.
7) Create family sharing opportunities. Love grows, it never diminishes.
8) Teach them to trust. This is another essential step. To trust others, to believe in them, means to trust in oneself.
9) Educate them to accept diversity as a resource for our future. Culture, personality, interests.
10) Finally, let’s set ourselves a major goal: not to influence their choices. Let them choose their friends, even if you do not approve. Leave them free. To choose who to be with, they need to understand who not to be with. And have experiences to learn this.
Friendship is a value. We adults know this. If we look at our lives, we remember those close to us over time. Those who love us. Other people are a gift that life has given us. An added bonus. Our opportunity to be better people.
I want to teach this value to my son. Sharing, going along with, moving ahead together.
Because it’s better together. Much better.
Priscilla – Family Welcome