Building strong, healthy friendships from young

How do we help our kids build strong, healthy friendships? It begins by teaching and helping them to understand what constitutes a good friend. Here are 3 essential traits:

1. Trustworthiness

Talk about words that define ‘trustworthy’, and actions that influence whether we trust a person or not (e.g. lying).

To help your child understand the importance of being someone trustworthy, you can play-act different scenarios; this will allow them to experience the impact of their actions. You can then ask follow-up questions to reinforce how important it is to be trustworthy.

2. Forgiveness

It can be difficult for children to understand this; it’s far too easy for them say “I don’t want to be friends with (name) anymore because he/she did (insert action here).” On the flip side, children are either unaware that they may have hurt their friend, or be afraid to admit a mistake.

Disagreements do happen; it’s vital that we teach them to work out the conflicts on their own and to forgive each other.

Note: instead of instructing your child to solve the problem and to forgive/ask for forgiveness, help your child determine if the relationship is worth the effort. This will help to motivate the child in resolving the conflict and retaining the relationship.

3. Graciousness

Children may be unsure of how they should interact with others who are not like them. Encourage your child to be open to potential friendships with various personalities; being gracious to everyone regardless of their popularity and personality is an important life lesson.

As the famous saying goes, “Don’t draw lines (between people). Draw circles and be inclusive.” You can brainstorm with your child ways to help others feel included in different social situations.

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