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Tips on Friendships

Recent studies show that peers have a powerful influence on even the youngest children. If you’ve ever watched a baby concentrate on the next youngest person in a room, you know why.

Kids learn how to get along by watching other kids. They learn new skills and information from playing with or alongside children. They become better at communicating because they want to play with and be accepted by friends. In fact, the better they are at learning social and thinking skills from their friends, the more successful they will be later in life. The more comfortable and confident they are with peers, the more likely they can choose friends wisely and resist negative influences.

You can do many things to help children get along with and learn from friends.

  1. Play with your kids just for fun. You should play with them, letting them take the lead and direct the play as much as possible. Keep the tone positive.
  2. Give your children many opportunities to play with friends. Friends don’t have to be the same age as your child. Begin by inviting one child and his or her parent to play for a short time and extend the time and play group membership gradually.
  3. Be sure you and your kids talk about their friends and the things they do with their friends. When talking with your kids, you are finding out information and helping them learn to solve problems.
  4. Support your kids approaching problems with friends in a problem-solving mode. Children can picture different ways to solve problems and be compassionate when you encourage them to do so.
  5. Throw your weight behind positive, appropriate solutions. Negotiation and a willingness to join in with others’ ideas are always more acceptable than tattling, aggression, or vocal bullying.
  6. Take an upbeat approach to setbacks or disappointments . About 50 percent of most encounters in preschool result in rejection. If kids respond to this rejection by saying, “Nobody likes me,” they will drive away potential friends or withdraw from the group. Help your child understand that this is not a permanent situation. Ask your child to choose a schoolmate to invite to your home for a play day or role-play with your child ways to make friends.
  7. Unless necessary, don’t interfere in your kids’ ongoing play. Get involved when an argument turns into a fight or stalemate.
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Updated on 3/21/2012