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Best of Friendships

Four ways to help your child forge lifelong friendships

Posted: 1 October 2012
by Natalie Madorsky and Elman Eileen Kennedy-Moore

As parents, we often want to solve everything for our chidren, but the key to encouraging your child to create lifelong friendships is to give them some space and help point out what makes a good friend. Here are four ways you can help your child:

1. If he has had a bad day, listen sympathetically, but don’t rush in to solve his problems. Tell him that all relationships go through ups and downs. He may say he hates his friend one moment, but next day they’ll be best buddies again.

2. Talk with your child about what other children like and don’t like – there might be some things that don't seem obvious to your child at some ages. Explain that kind, thoughtful children tend to have more friends and give her tips on how to fit in with other children. For instance, if she wants to join in a game of ‘shops’, she could offer to be a customer rather than demand that she takes over the till. 

3. Help your child see a situation from the other person’s point of view. Some children aren't able to see the difference between a real put-down and an unintentional slight.“Sometimes it’s hard to know if children are having serious problems or just experiencing the ebb and flow of friendships,” says US psychologist Dr Eileen Kennedy-Moore. “Ask your chid if he has someone to sit with at lunchtime at school, or at snack time at playgroup. If so, you can probably worry less.”

4 Stay positive. “It can really hurt if your child doesn’t get invited to a birthday party,” says Dr Kennedy-Moore. “Help her see the reasons, other than deliberate meanness, why this might have happened.” Perhaps there was only space for a few guests. Or maybe it was a boys-only party. Even if you are a little sceptical yourself, try not to say anything negative about the birthday boy or girl; putting other people down won't help your child learn the value of respect and kindness.

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