The dictionary describes a friend as a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.
Roughly translated, this is 2 people who like each other! Seems pretty simple, right?
Well let’s be real - when is anything that simple? Especially when we’re dealing with human emotion.
So let’s break it down. Because in the end all we want as parents is to raise confident, kind and emotionally resilient children who grow to use those skills in adulthood to build healthy relationships and boundaries.
When we’re really young, we’re encouraged to be social. Our parents normally plan playdates or involve us in playgroups of some kind which is likely where we will likely make our first “friend”. It’s hard to describe what a friend is to us during the early years - but we can help our children really define what it means to be a friend as they grow.
In short, helping our child learn how to make friends and be a friend boils down to helping them develop abilities like:
- Expressing and coping with negative emotions; not internalizing them
- Recognizing the emotional cues of others around them
- Considering other perspectives and points of view
- Expressing sympathy and understanding empathy
- Conflict resolution and forgiveness
- Expressing remorse and making amends