Top tips on helping little ones learn how to recognize and be a good friend.
By GreatSchools Staff
Whether summertime means languorous days at the beach or full-time camp, the months away from a regular routine offer kids a chance to boost a vital set of skills: Making and keeping strong friendships.
What’s that, you say? Don’t kids just know how to make friends? Not necessarily. Between school and after-school activities, children’s time is far more structured than in days past. As a result, kids today have fewer opportunities to practice the social skills needed for being — and making — a good friend.
Strong social skills include everything from having empathy and showing an interest in others to starting a conversation, giving compliments, and taking turns. And summer is the perfect time for youngsters to practice these skills and build their confidence in the process — all of which will help when they return to school in the fall.
Here are some simple steps to build on your kids' friendship skills:
What's a friend anyway?
Don’t assume your children know what being a good friend entails. Talk about taking turns, sharing, and showing an interest in others and how these actions will make peers and classmates feel good and want to spend time with them. Ask your kids how they feel when someone doesn’t share with them or makes them feel left out. By explaining how other children feel the same way, this will help them develop empathy.
The more your children interact with others, the better they’ll get at it. And having them meet a wide variety of people in different situations will let them practice under different circumstances. Even if your family is planning to stay home this summer, make sure your kids get out to places where they'll meet other kids — for example, the playground, the public pool, and children’s hour at the library. If they’re going to camp or taking classes, encourage them to talk to new kids and try to make friends.