From the time children start school they have fully started the lifelong adventure of friendships. The hard thing for parents and teachers is that their control of friendships diminish with each growing year. So how do we make sure our children choose friends wisely? From our experience we feel children DO need help with social skills. In the early stages experimenting with friends is very important to the child. You may not be surprised that their choices won't always suit you! Opposites are often sought out. The shy boy following the outgoing one or the conservative girl seeking the young rebels. And then the children invite them home! We have learnt a number of key lessons about friendships in our role of helping children flourish. At the end of the day we want the best for all of our children so here's some tips.
1. Be open to all types of personalities your children engage with. It is the flavour of life that is best learnt when you are young. Comparing friends and making personal judgements is rarely necessary. In a supportive environment children WILL work out what type of person is best for them.
2. You may be alerted to or witness unusual behaviour such as suddenly being the class clown or speaking in a strange voice. This is a classic call out for friendship and it's time to focus on the child's strengths. This reminds them gently that they do not need to be someone they are not to make friends. Clubs, sports and family time are vital at this stage.
3. Successful friendships happen when a strong sense of identity is established. 'Who Am I' is the most important question that needs to be pursued. This is the backbone of Jarratt projects. Relationships prosper when a child has the confidence to be themselves and be open towards others.
4. I mentioned those all important social skills for successful friendships So what are they? At Jarratts we practice and model the following:
- Taking turns being listeners and talkers.
- Praising someone when they have done something well.
- Using manners Doing something kind just because it's a great thing to do.
- Giving something back if it has been borrowed.
- NO negative comments about anyone. You can disagree but don't make it personal.
To put it simply:
"The only way to have a friend is to be one." - Ralph Waldo Emerson