Fostering Our Kids' Friendships
Children learn so much by simply having friends. Whether they are neighborhood friends, or even their own siblings, friendships are important in helping children develop, both emotionally and socially. Our kiddos learn to give and take, follow rules, and even how to make decisions when faced with dilemmas, all while interacting with their peers.
Research shows that children with friends have a greater sense of well-being, better self-esteem, and fewer social problems as adults, than individuals without friends. Which is a great case for allowing your kids to establish firm and healthy friendships early in life.
My kids look forward to any school vacation, especially the two week Christmas and New Year break, because they know that their friends are home and can play on an otherwise dreary winter day. Most often the neighborhood kids all end up in our living room playing the Wii or running around in our backyard. Of course, I am more than okay with this, since all of my kids can play under my supervision and are also able to grow their friendships.
However, it can be difficult, as a mom, to sit back and watch when one of my children feels slighted by a friend. Like today. Julia came in from playing out front, this afternoon, looking a little down. I asked her what was up, since she had just asked if one of her neighbor friends could come in and play.
"I asked Susie* if she wanted to come in and play, but she yelled at me and said NO," she said, plopping down on the couch. "I thought she was my friend," she added with a sigh.
Helping our kids learn that not every friendship will always be sunshine and roses - a fact that we as adults know all too well - is not always easy. Even the slightest, sometimes just perceived, bit of rejection can be taken so hard, but a simple reminder to always show themselves friendly will, in the end, benefit our kids in smiles and true friends.
"A man who has friends must show himself friendly." ~Proverbs 18:24
*Julia's friend's name has been changed.