Since having children I have learnt a huge array of new skills. From carer to educator, councillor to chef, there is always something to learn for both me and them. No steeper learning curve can be found than when it comes to friendships. There is one major difference between girls and boys when it comes to friends.
Charlie is so chilled and relaxed. He met his best friends on the first day of pre-school and the first day of reception class. The three of them muddle through, never arguing, it's all so chilled, so easy. One of them may occasionally not want to play the same activity at playtime. No big deal off he goes, no hassle, still friends.
OH MY DAYS! Megan has had a few “sets” of friends who make an appearance then disappear for a few months. However she has a best friend, they are pretty much joined at the hip. There is three of them, sometimes this works well, sometimes this leaves someone feeling like they are on the outside. Most of the time this is Megan. Megan is an August baby and although she excels academically, her social and emotional skills are somewhat lacking and not comparable to that of a 7 year old. Megan lacks the ability to go and find others to play with a skill we have worked on this past year, instead Megan would spend time alone at play times. Which in turn made her sad and lonely. Girls tend to put all their friendship eggs in one basket.
There is also the language “You're not my best friend anymore!” “I'll be your best friend if you ….” “You're a poo poo nappy baby” (jeez thanks Horrid Henry!) Or the time Megan was sobbing because someone said she had funny hair. * sigh *
The thing about school is that you can no longer shield your child from those children you may have somewhat avoided until now. As a parent how can we make friendships easier? And what can we do to help them develop successful relationships and friendships with their peers.
Start them early : I think social interaction from a young age is really beneficial so I recommend going to parent and baby groups if you can. Your child will learn to share toys, develop speech etc with others and they will create friendships which will help them to make more with ease as they move on to nursery and school.(www.TheMiniMesAndMe.com)
Model good friendships : As with any behaviour, enabling your children to see it modelled well first hand is vital. If you do want to winge and moan about Doris and her style of parenting do it behind closed doors and when small ears aren't about. Try not to shout and argue in front of children.
Open discussions : It's really important to talk through issues they may be having with other children and help them to figure out what to do about things. My son has had a couple of problems with children in his Reception year and talking through what has happened has allowed him to puzzle it out for himself. (www.redrosemummy.com
Never take their side : Always find out what has happened in each instance. Show your child how important it is to gather all relevant information in order to make an informed decision.
Praise them for kindness : It can be so easily overlooked good behaviour and always make comment on bad behaviour. Ensure you always praise your child for playing nicely, kind talking and being a good friend.
Don't force it : If your child doesn't get on with a child you have play dates with don't push it. Most children are naturally social, encourage this by spending time where there are other children and let friendships develop naturally. (happyhandley.wordpress.com ) Also be prepared that some children take a long time to build friendships whilst others seem to do it from the age of 4. My son is 5 and half and really struggles with this. I'm a very social Mum and he's always been around other children. But he is painfully shy and really only has one good friend at school and one he's made through blogging. My tip would be don't push things and try not to worry about it as a parent. (over40andamumtoone.com)
Have a ton of kids! :OK so this is a bit tongue in cheek but it is helpful when learning about developing relationships and friendships with others than they have someone at home to trial these skills out on!
Do you have any top tips for encouraging your little ones to make friends and develop healthy relationships? I'd love to hear them. July 31st is International Day of Friendship, why noy celebrate by having a few of your chums over for tea.
This post is in collaboration with TheCircle