Everyone wants to have friends. Friendships are important. Good friends help us learn and grow, they help us build confidence, they help us enjoy life. When we are surrounded by people who care about us, we are able to navigate through life’s ups and downs and feel their love and support.
Children especially need friends to help them grow emotionally, socially and morally. They need mainly people their own age, although children can become friends with those who are older or younger. Many parents try to be a friend to their child, thinking they are being loving, but this will only stop a child from becoming independent and responsible. Parents should be a parent, a mentor, a teacher, someone who is there to guide them, support them, discipline them and mostly love them. Parents should be a good example to their children, helping them learn how to become a good friend to others and encouraging them to find positive friendships. Without friendships, children may easily become depressed, lonely and lack ambition which can result in poor health, poor performance in school or work, failed marriages and difficulty coping as an adult.
What does it take to be a good friend? It comes from a combination of teaching and experience. Good friends are able to :
- communicate their feelings in a positive way
- understand the feelings of others
- show empathy
- be trustworthy
- not gossip or spread false rumours
- take responsibility for their own actions
- solve problems and resolve conflicts
- forgive easily and not hold grudges
- distinguish right from wrong
- make good choices
- stand up for what they believe
- withstand bullying and understand that bullies have their own issues to deal with
- be loyal even when a friend is hurting physically or emotionally
- get along with others even during difficult times
- accept differences in people
- own up to their mistakes and not blame others
- have fun and enjoy life
If you want to have good friends, you have to be a good friend. Be a good example to your children and teach them to be a good example to others. Discourage them from having friends who continually hurt them through gossiping, excluding them, ignoring them or trying to get them to do things they know is wrong. Even having 1 good friend is better than having 20 bad friends. You are the biggest influence in your child’s life so make sure you are influencing them in a positive way.