As kids get older and start to enter preschool and kindergarten, they begin to develop an understanding of the concept of friendship. At first, nearly every kid they meet becomes a friend.
“She talked to me in the sand box, so she’s my friend” or “He let me drive his truck, so he’s my friend.”
And, of course, they drop friends just as quickly.
“He didn’t let me have a cracker, so he’s not my friend anymore” or “She called me a silly name, so she’s not my friend anymore.”
In Seeing Beyond the Obvious from iStoryBooks.co, one of the main characters, Violet, develops her own ideas about friendship, but her mother helps her learn that not all friendships look the same.
Parents can do the same for their children.
When talking with children about friendship, it’s good to start with determining what a friend is. A simple definition may be that a friend is someone you know that you enjoy spending time with.
Parents can also talk to kids about how to make friends. Some things kids can do to make friends include:
- Introducing themselves to kids
- Joining other kids during a game
- Sharing their toys with other kids
- Offering to help other kids
- Meeting kids at school
- Interacting with kids who are different
Being a Good Friend
Once kids make friends, parents can talk to them about how to be a good friend. In Seeing Beyond the Obvious, Vera is a good friend because she goes over to Molly’s house to play all the time because Molly is in a wheelchair and can’t get to Vera’s house. Instead of saying, “It’s not fair that Molly never comes to my house, so we can’t be friends,” Vera enjoys the time she gets to spend with her friend.
Parents can help kids to make a list of the traits of a good friend. For example, a good friend:
- uses kind words
- shares his/her toys and snacks
- helps a friend in need
- thinks about others’ feelings
- shows respect
- tells the truth
- accepts someone as they are
Parents should remind kids that not only do they want to look for friends who fit these traits, but they also want to display these traits when interacting with their friends.
One of the best ways kids learn about a concept is by seeing it in action. Parents should take time to model the traits of a friend for their children. This may be done by role playing conversations between friends, by reading books and watching shows about friendship, and by pointing out examples of a good friend. For example, if a child is watching a TV show and a puppy helps out his friend, a kitten, who has gotten stuck into a tree, a parent might say, “That puppy is being helpful. That’s a trait of a good friend.”
While these lessons may seem small, they’ll help kids form their general view of friendship and, perhaps, will inspire them to choose friends wisely as they get older.