Friendship skills - top tips for parents

Parenting NI

Having friends provides support, promotes social skills along with increased positive mental health and well-being. Children’s friendships are very important for their social and emotional development. Parents and carers have an important role to play in helping children develop friendships.

Learn through play

Provide children with opportunities to play with peers. Children learn through experience and playing with friends helps children develop necessary social skills to maintain good relationships. Play helps children learn how to take turns, how to share, and how to win and lose.

Be a good role model

Children will learn from you and your relationships with others. You can illustrate positive social skills through involving children in activities which help others. Reading stories about friendships and through modelling positive gestures when interacting with others such as smiling and making eye contact will also provide great learning opportunities.

Encourage positive social skills

Talk to your child about what makes a good friend and the qualities we need to be good friends to each other. Teach children skills in relating to others such as listening, kindness sharing, playing by the rules, showing interest in what others have to say and empathy.

Take a back seat 

Try not to step into friendship issues when they arise, instead try to help your child resolve conflicts by being supportive and encouraging. Talk through problems thinking about how they feel and what they can do next to help make the situation better.

Like attracts like

Children become friends because they share similar interests, likes and dislikes. They also find it easier to get along if they are doing the same activity, so it can be helpful to plan activities for children to do together in advance of a play date.

Praise positive behaviour

When you see your child being a good friend praise your child for being friendly and caring to others. This positive feedback will support your children’s learning and friendship making skills.

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