As a parent, it’s natural to want your child to surround themselves with positive influences and role models. But are your kids good influences to those around them? Teaching your child the skillsets of what it takes to be a good friend will bring them far in life, not just in social skills.
1. It all begins with self-esteem and confidence. Teach your kid that those who express confidence don’t seek validation from others to fill emotional voids. You can promote these qualities by praising their hard work and pointing out their best qualities.
2. Teach them to value honesty, loyalty, empathy and trustworthiness. These lessons are just as important as skills like Math and English, and are important to talk about with your kids.
3. Show them how to recognize unique gifts and qualities in others. While valuing your own kid’s thoughtfulness or sense of humor, they will learn to value these similar qualities in others, or even different ones that complement them in different ways.
4. A cliché but a timeless one – always teach the golden rule – the principle of treating others as you would like to be treated. This teaches the concepts of compassion, regret and empathy.
5. Where there are good friends, there are equally bad ones. Show your kids how to clear steer of those with cruel intentions, bad listening skills or who bully others. You’re showing your child not to tolerate this behavior, and to recognize it in their friends.
6. An important skill to teach kids regarding friendship is the sill of conflict resolution. Sometimes, we may not agree with our friends or get along with them seamlessly. The skill of making up and effective communication will very much help them throughout life.
7. Discuss the concepts of popularity and let them know that falling in with the popular crowd is not as valuable as creating deep, authentic bonds with individuals they click with, popular or not.
8. Value and prioritize books about friendship – these will vary due to the age of the kid. Younger kids will appreciate Winnie the Pooh or Frog and Toad, but there are plenty of YA books about friendships as well.
9. Set good samples with your own friends – don’t keep people around that are mean-spirited or treat you like a doormat. If you surround yourself with a community that loves and supports you, it’s amazing role mode
10. Teach them that true friends stick by through thick and thin – in times of betrayal, sadness, and fear, as well as the joyful and exciting celebrations.
11. Show the important concept of inclusion. Even if you have a friend group, being an includer to new friends is just as important. Teach your child not to discard old friends, and to always welcome new ones that may seem lonely.
12. Show them how to politely decline invitations, follow rules and boundaries, and show good sportsmanship. This will help teach them courtesy, the ideas of fairness and not being a sore loser.