My son has just had his first taste of independence, out in the world, onhis own. He has just started pre – school a few months back. And while schoolis an exciting place to be at for him, he is still in the throwe of separationanxiety like any other 3 year old. He has his routine of “I don’t want to go toschool” meltdowns almost each morning, as he realizes school means time awayfrom mommy and his familiar environment.
We have tried everything to excite him about school, from the new toys hewould get to the painting he would do, and then, on a friend’s suggestion, wegot him a bed time story book, that would empathize with his situation and atthe same time highlight the benefits of going to school, and to our surprisethe one thing that got our son to get over his anxiousness was the fact that hewould meet other babies who would be just as new to the school, and togetherthey would all play and eventually become the best of friends! Just like mommyhad met her friends!
Now, that of course, is toddler terminology, but it’s just as true foreveryone, no matter what age you are. We all need friends! To make us feelbetter, to help us ease over difficult situations, to share a laugh or to justplain hang out. For children the importance of friendship takes on a whole newmeaning. During their growing up years, children make different kinds offriends; the earliest ones are of course their parents and siblings. This isthe stage where they are learning to interact with another person and trying toenjoy their time together. But soon, children start to branch out and begininteraction with other children their own age. Many experts agree that thedevelopment of relationships with people outside a child’s immediate family isan important part of growing up into a healthy and happy young adult. In manycases, children begin to gain confidence in other areas of their lives as theystrike relationships with their peers.
But the road to friendship isn’t always the easiest, especially when thechild is young. This is where parents need to give a helping hand, to helptheir children open up with others outside of their immediate environment, andequip them with tools to build a relationship all of their own. Part of theagony of parenthood is watching our children try to make friends with otherswhile they may stand a chance at getting rejected.
The key, experts suggest, is taking small and gentle steps that encouragepositive social interaction without being too pushy. The goal is to give yourchild opportunities for rewarding social experiences that will leave him/herwanting more.
Parents need to teach their children the importance of friendship and howthey can benefit through life with friends. Some of the benefits thatfriendship can offer to everyone alike are:
• A social life: Having a social life teaches them about behavior skills andmore. A social life is healthy because they can learn from other people’sexperiences and situations. Friends may also help your child do better inschool because so much of their learning comes from interaction with others.
• Confidence to interact with people: Kids need to have their own friends inorder to grow emotionally. They need to have the ability to pick up the phoneand have a person to talk to when life is not going their way.
• Learning the finer social skills: Skills such as cooperation, tolerance andhow to treat people with respect, can be important life lessons that havingfriends can teach a child. If your children are never involved in activitiesand do not have relationships with other people they will not try to buildstrong relationships as adults. Interaction with other children their own agehelps them understand different temperaments and how to deal with them.
• Being Happy: Building relationships helps us have a having a happy life inthe future. Close friends can bring a lot of happiness in any child’s life, asit shows him/her that someone special cares for him/her, and that he/she cancount on that friend to be there to help him through any situation. Friendsbecome a child’s chosen family.
So, what are you waiting for? Help your child forge this specialrelationship today! And to help more parents like me out there, the nextdiscussion on igenius will share handy tips on helping young children strikefriends and keep them for life! Watch this space for more, I know I will!