Making Friends

Main points:

  • Good friendships are very important for your child starting school.
  • Maintaining old friendships can be just as important as making new ones.
  • The quality of friends that your child has is more important than the number.
  • You can help your child make and maintain friendships.

Making and keeping friends

Starting school contains lots of anxiety-ridden unknowns for your child including a new teacher, harder lessons, different clothes and where they'll sit in class. But perhaps the most unsettling challenge for your child may be around making new friends while keeping those they already have.

Friends are people that your child can sit with, play with, talk to, share things with, confide in and sometimes argue with.

Your child’s teacher has an important role to play in supporting children to make friends. Some of the ways in which a teacher can do this includes identifying their skills in making friends; seeing which children are chatty, confident and good at interacting with other children and those that are a little more cautious.

Children’s friendships are often very fluid and it is the quality of friends that your child has that is important, not the number. Whether your child has one special friend or many friends isn’t really the issue. As long as they are happy and content you can be assured that they’ll do fine.

Conflicts between children are a normal part of growing up and are to be expected. These conflicts are not considered bullying, even though they may be upsetting and need to be resolved.

Tips to help you

  • Let your child know that if another child doesn’t want to play with them, they still have friends and people who care about them.
  • Encourage your child’s interests and get them involved in clubs or groups that have similar interests.
  • Offer to carpool – this will provide opportunities for your child to mix with others and helps you to get to know the other parents. Often it is the parents who make the first connections when it comes to developing friendships and this takes some of the pressure off the children.
  • Through your behaviour and the time and effort you put into your own friendships, your child will learn how to be a friend and have friends.
  • Talk to your child about forgiveness. Sometimes friends do things that upset us. This doesn’t mean the friendship has to end. Understanding that everyone makes mistakes is an important lesson to learn.

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