Childhood Friendships and How to Support Your Child Through Them
It is never too early to start paying attention to how your child interacts with others. Friendships that children build up when they are young will become the models they use for other connections for the rest of their lives. Even infants are wired to make friendships by responding to the way people interact with them. In the very early ages, children act toward those they like by mirroring them, or copying you might say. That is why the very first friendships developed with caretakers are of such great importance.
The First Friendships
As early as the age of 2, children start to form real friendships with those they are drawn to. It may be because they have a common interest, live near each other or both have a dog. These early interactions are very important to them. They also need your input. As situations arise, you can help them work out many issues through conflict resolution. Since we start out only being able to see our own side of things, introducing empathy early is only beneficial. Learning that preserving the friendship is more important than personal needs, will help them learn home to prioritize people in their lives.
Best Friends- Today Anyway
From the ages of 2 to 6, friendships can seem like they are always in flux. Many factors influence this. The environment the friendships are playing out in, the reasons the children developed them and the personalities of the individuals. Just like later on, even other people can influence how the friendship will go. Sometimes there can be complex reasons friendships work or don’t work. Helping your child understand what happened in these situations will help them determine how to proceed in the future.
Somewhere between the ages of 7 and 9 friendships seem to change for kids. In fact, the whole world seems to change for kids. They are moving past the knowledge of who has a dog and whose Mom has ice cream and what they are going to eat tonight. Decisions on who to spend time with are not as simple anymore. They are aware of time passing and things have less of a permanent feel for them. They have seen that people and the world change.
This stage and going on from here is where you really get to take on a supportive role. At first, you get to teach the give and take- that it is important that a friendship be symbiotic (benefiting both) and not parasitic (benefiting one while hurting the other). After that, you will mostly be helping them understand interpersonal relations. This is going to help them connect with others for the rest of their lives. The good experiences and the bad will help shape the way they approach people and view themselves. That is why it is never to early to watch how they are seeing people. Today's playground friends may very well be tomorrows best friend, co-worker, boss or partner.