5 TIPS TO HELPING YOUR KIDS CHOOSE (AND KEEP) GOOD FRIENDS
Updated: Jul 1
5 Tips for Helping Your Children Choose (and keep) Good Friends
Friendships can be difficult, even for adults and for children, it can be difficult to navigate friendships that can sometimes seem ever changing and evolving due to moves, changing activities, changing schools, and sometimes just friendship “break-ups”.
Teach and model good friendship skills to your children by: teaching them the importance of sharing; being a good sport if they lose; the importance of providing a listening ear; sticking up for their friend when needed; and the value of loyalty and knowing that there can be ups and downs in friendships.
The value of forgiveness, which does not always mean the friendship can or should continue. Sometimes, with repeat offenders, or abusive friendships, it can be important to forgive, but possibly equally important to “move on” if the friend continues mean or unacceptable behaviour. Your child does not need to be a doormat.
Fostering good self-esteem is an important role parents and caregivers can play. Reminding your child that they are truly special, unique, have their own special gifts and talents, and that they are loved can go a long way in your child not feeling they have to stay in unhealthy friendships.
Meeting the parents or caregivers of your child’s friends can also be a very important way to monitor your childs’ safety. As a psychotherapist, I have unfortunately heard stories whereby a child was sexually assaulted, witnessed violence or substance abuse, or have been injured due to negligence, while at a visit or a sleepover at a friend’s house. Don’t feel bad about “vetting” another parent prior to allowing an unsupervised visit. I generally aim to have a visit with both the child and at least one parent before considering this. I tend to be the parent that prefers to have my children’s friends come to our home, but I also just enjoy hosting in general.
ASK your kids about their friends. It is a great way to improve your relationship with your kids in general, by being genuinely interested in what is going on in their friendships. As a therapist, I always ask my child and adolescent clients about their friendships, as this is a very important part of their life. Most of the time, when it feels more like genuine interest, rather than an interrogation, kids are very happy to share this part of their life.
Sharing what you value about your own friendships and what qualities you feel are important to look for in a friend can also be a very valuable teaching tool, and your kids will likely appreciate you taking an interest in this important part of their life.