Make friends, make friends...

It sounds good in theory, right? You encourage your child to socialise; you organise playdates, invite friends around with their children, and then your child ends up with a black eye/broken toy/being teased.

I like you, I hate you!
The downside of learning social skills is that (not always) there will be hurt. The elation of having a Best Friend is countered with “I’m not your friend anymore”.
I remember the chant we had at primary school: “Make friends, make friends, never, ever break friends, if we do you’ll catch the flu, and that will be the end of you” (trad.).

As much as we want our children to be friendly and social, and not cowering behind the bicycle sheds at school, we also want to protect them from the harmless (and sometimes harmful) cruelties which are a natural part of fledgling socialisation. We also don't want them to be the sociopath beating up the other kids.

Human beings are drawn together for numerous complex reasons (or driven apart). We like someone’s sense of humour, or we have some sport or interest in common. Maybe we both just share being outcasts. Whatever the reason is, we as parents can’t force our children to befriend certain other children

Modelling friendship: Dos and don'ts
We can, however, teach them the marvels of not being judgmental, of accepting all sorts of personalities from many different backgrounds and of reaching out to others. We can model kindness and compassion, and display empathy in front of them. That means we have to be friendly, too!

That said, if our adult friendships go wrong, it’s a good idea to refrain from engaging in gossipy or hostile discussions in front of them. Children do pick up our anger and frustration. If they are aware of the issue, discuss it in terms they can understand, using neutral tones.

There will always be popular kids at school (and in life), but popularity is a double-edged sword- it comes at the cost of depth in relationships. If you make a little effort on modelling real friendship to your children, you’ll be helping them to relate to their peers without an agenda.

Sure, they may get into a couple of arguments along the way, but they’ll be far more emotionally mature for their efforts.

Is your child good at making friends?

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