Friends are an indispensable part of life, but when we talk about children, their importance is even greater. As well as being key players in children’s emotional lives, friendships during childhood helps our kids develop fully and teaches them basic, yet necessary, social skills.
Friendship in early childhood
From the first year, kids begin to want to spend more time with other children of the same age. And this is an important stage for them, because it is the moment during which they learn to relate and socialize (even if the bonds that are created at this age are not yet friendships). Our children have their “little friends” from the park or kindergarten because they like to interact with others. If your kid enjoyed spending time with their teddy and dolls, playing with them, they will now try to do the same with other children of similar ages. Children’s desire to explore everything around them and see how other people react is truly remarkable, as they learn by repeating experiences.
Having other children with whom to relate in the first stage of childhood is important because they develop a better concept about themselves and improve on their social skills. There are even studies that say that having friends improves academic performance.
All these reasons have to lead us, as parents, to encourage our baby to share time with other children and create valuable, lasting relationships with their peers. It can be in the kindergarten and if we choose to have them at home with us, we can devote some time to group activities: go to the park or to places where your little one can interact with other kids.
Friends at 5 years old
At the age of 5 is when friendships begin to take a real, important meaning. At this point, friendship relations are based on trust, on the support of some friends to others and, also, when children begin to know how give in to the desires or preferences of others without always imposing their points of view. That is to say, friendship, among many other things, teaches them to learn the rules of living within society and coexisting with others. In addition, it is important to have friends to share common experiences and live great adventures.
The best friend
From the age of 7 is when children begin to develop, truly, the meaning of friendship. In this stage you will see changes in the way your little one relates to other children of the same age: they learn to help their friends, give in to the preferences of others and try to solve their conflicts autonomously, without your help.
If at an earlier stage of life the children have bonded by sharing common circumstances (schoolmates, the park, children of friends …) when they grow up, they will be able to choose the people with whom they share more interests and with those who want to have a close relationship. It is in these ages when the concept of a “best friend” appears.
With the arrival of this age, parents have to be on the lookout to make sure our children enjoy healthy friendships. Although they will be happy with only just one “best friend”, you have to teach them that having more than one is much more fun. But we shouldn’t forget that at this stage children tend to be relatively fickle about whom they consider their “best friend”. If the child is integrated in a group, and has not had an exclusive relationship with only one person, it will be easier to continue enjoying activities and having fun with other classmates or children of the same age.
So, what can parents do? Help our children grow up as happy children.