What do children say about friendship?

April 24, 2012

Teachers will often be asked by a parent to help with their child’s friendship issues. Some parents may want the teacher to step in and ‘fix’ things for their child. In some cases, for example if bullying is occurring, this will be necessary, however in most cases the most powerful way parents and teachers can help is give the child the tools and opportunities to deal with varied social situations. 

Parents may need to be reminded that social and emotional competence develops over time, in the same way as literacy, numeracy and other skills are progressively developed and extended. 

Murray Evely has been listening to primary and junior secondary school students talk about how  parents can help them to make and keep friends. Here are some of their tips.You may like to share these with a parent next time you are asked to help their child with friendships.

1. Catch up regularly with family friends who have children, so the children can play together.

2. Be friends with other children’s parents.

3. Be nice to your child’s friends.

4. Provide opportunities for friendships. e.g. Allow children to visit your house; be willing to be the taxi driver and take them places; let older children use public transport together during the day.

5. Help children develop independence by providing:

  • Talk time and measured advice e.g. Which are good values to look for in a friend?Discuss the benefits of particular friendships; consider the qualities of a good friend.
  • Help to provide perspective e.g. regarding teasing – ‘ Maybe they are jealous’ or ‘It might be good to not react to the things they say and see how it goes’.
  • Problem solving assistance e.g. ‘Who do you trust the most? Take turns’.
  • Values training e.g. ‘Is it good to be a friend to a child who breaks the law?’

6. Broaden friendship through talents and sports teams. Allow and encourage children to join sports teams, or clubs or activities they are interested in.

7. Provide times for your adolescent to use social media, but monitor and discuss the use. 

8. Have siblings! Children can become friends with siblings friends, or siblings’ friends’ siblings.

Want to know more …

Find out how teachers and parents can further promote friendships at a workshop with Murray Evely.