Friendship is not only a value that we want our children to develop, it also means a way of being in the world, of relating. The meaning that children give to friendship from an early age will have an impact on the way they interact with other people. Here we explain what friendship means for children, as well as some actions that can help develop it.
What does friendship mean to children?
The meanings can be very varied among the little ones, but above all, they relate it to the one who will accompany them in the discovery. Friendship is a search for answers, adventures, and an ally along the way. However, it also means learning, effort, and teamwork; it is a co-construction.
These effective relationships are related in turn to other types of values, such interactions are the perfect scenario to apply everything they have learned. These first experiences, together with what adults are teaching them, will form a profile of what they want in a friendship, what they will give and the type of people with whom they will feel comfortable or with whom they will seek to establish a bond.
It is also important to mention that friendships in childhood allow the development of skills, among what we find, problem-solving. They are the first confrontations in the face of difficulties that they must solve on their own, we talk about discontent, recognition of their own mistakes, etc. Friendship at this age may not be the comfort zone for many children, as they will face their first times, situations of discomfort, or effort. We could say that on a large scale the meaning of friendship for children is discovery, challenge, and learning.
How to develop friendship in children?
1. Relate friendship to other values:
Friendship, as already mentioned, is accompanied by other types of values, so achieving that relationship with these values will allow children to develop a clearer meaning about what friendship is. In turn we must define what all these values are about, such as: Friendship is related to respect, respect is not laughing at the other when something unpleasant happens to him, not pressuring him to do things the way I know because he can do it his way, etc.
2. Set boundaries together.
Boundaries have always been difficult to mark, even for us as adults. All this is due to the imaginary fears that are built around it. We think people can get angry, misinterpret it, walk away, or maybe we’re exaggerating.
The reality is that limits are necessary and if we teach children to use them from a young age they can break with these fears and create much more relationships “healthy”, but above all Clear. Setting limits is not ordering the others what to do, it is mentioning what we are willing to do and what we are not.
3. Teach him to speak assertively.
This area is linked to the previous one. Assertiveness is nothing more than speaking in the clearest way about what we think, no need to offend the other, but leaving our position is clear. Communicating is difficult, imagine that between what you say and understand there is a whole world of meanings, learning, and interpretations, and that is why it is good to try to be as clear as possible. Kindness is not at odds with the struggle for rights, protest, or opinion.
There are certain structures of prayer that can help you develop better communication, including that it has no deductions, that is, only what is “objective” is valid, not what you interpret. In this sense, you can guide your child on how to speak objectively, adding what bothers him, his emotions, explaining why, and teaching that you have to have a little empathy towards what the other thinks, giving room to opinions and construction of solutions. Learn together.
4. List of what they would do for each other and what they expect.
Friendship, even if we say it is selfless, is ultimately a back and forth of things we expect from other people. It is to expect from the other love, affection, time, etc. and we create expectations, which may or may not occur, but it is important to visualize what they are, and once you identify them you can analyze how functional they are, to talk about them with your child.
For example, friendship is never criticizing, that’s fine, but to what extent, if this really affects me, or to mention that we disagree with something, is it to be a bad friend? or it is an act of self-love, etc.
We recommend you to analyze with the children who wait, the why and the importance they give it, being necessary to recognize the pros and cons. With this, valuable space for reflection will be opened, resuming friendship not only as a bond but as a commitment to oneself and to other people. Although it seems a lot for young children it is not, the ideal is that at their level and experience they begin to have this type of space and activities, so it will be easier for them to do it before more significant moments, and in turn, you open a bond of trust so that they can come to you if they need it.
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