Anti-Bullying Week | How to teach our children to be a good friend.
To kick off Anti-Bullying week I wanted to write a blog post about how we can teach our children to be a good friend. Now more than ever, we know that friendships are a vital part of our human existence. The relationships that we forge with friends are often the source of some of our fondest memories and they simply help our mental health. Friendships can sometimes be made instantly but other times forging friendships can take a long time.
We moved from London to Yorkshire over the summer and at the moment I'm feeling the loss of some of my closest friendships. It is as if a comfort blanket has been taken away. The key elements of friendship - companionship, loyalty, trust and acceptance make up so much of our well-being and children, as well as adults, crave and need this too.
Learning how to be a good friend isn't necessarily an intuitive skill especially for children. Friendships are often the first relationships children have outside their core family unit.
So, how can we raise our children to be a good friend and in turn reap all the rewards of these lovely friendships? We explore some key rules of friendship here:
- Have an open mind and be understanding
A person should not be limited by the amount or the type of friends that they have. It is important to keep an open mind and know that it is ok to be different and have a friend who is different. Deep down we are all the same, no matter what we look or sound like, and we should teach our children to be open to new friendships and associate with different people from different backgrounds.
- Be inclusive
It is important to teach our children to be inclusive and ‘Not let anyone sit alone.’ Children should be brought up to know that they can talk to anyone and everyone in school and friendship groups. Keep talking to them about how important it is to ask a classmate to play on the playground or sit with them at lunchtime and to not leave people out.
- Be there for your friends
Loyalty is one of the most important qualities that make a good friend. True friends are there for each other, are a comfort to each other and will have each other’s backs. Friends should be there for each other during the good and bad times and keep on reminding your children of this.
- Stand up for your friends
Like the above, another important thing children can do for their friends is to stand up for them. This can often be tricky in certain situations, especially if a bully is involved. If they are too afraid to get involved, then simply walking up to the friend who is being picked on and asking if they are ok can be a really brave and kind action. Knowing that someone is there for them will give them strength to tackle the situation (More on bullying in our next blog!)
- Remember that friendships aren’t always perfect and learn to say sorry
In any friendships, there are going to be tough conversations and conflicts. Mistakes happen and it is important to make sure your children understand this. These are often a chance to learn and grow and the way mistakes are dealt with can often be the making or breaking of a true friendship. Make sure your children know to have honest conversations and always say sorry and own up when they know they have done something wrong.
- Remember that friendships change and shift over time
Children and people change so much over time and this is perfectly natural. The person you were best fiends with in Year 1 is unlikely the person you will still be best friends with in High School. But this is ok and friendships can be fluid. Often that friendship was there during that period of their life for a reason and moving on without blame or negative feelings is so important for children to learn.
It is really important to help your child foster healthy relationships. In order to help further with this, you might be interested in my ‘Friendship Cards' which will remind your child of the importance of being kind and the basic components of being a good friend such s companionship, loyalty, trustworthiness and acceptance.
Our Friendship Cards are just £6. They would make the perfect stocking filler gift for your child this Christmas.