7 Things to Teach Your Child About Building Great Friendships

7 Things to Teach Your Child About Building Great Friendships

As parents, our responsibility is to teach our children the values and ethics that will shape who they become as adults. These values also help your child connect and relate to others to build strong and healthy friendships.

Children are able to quickly form strong friendships at an early age because they have no expectations of what constitutes a good friend. For example, if they find another person who likes the colour blue, that is a good enough reason to start a friendship. However, as they grow older, making friendships can be challenging to navigate, specifically for teens. 

Building great friendships is integral to a healthy childhood, and teaching your child how to develop these relationships will help them go on to lead happy, successful lives. We want our children to grow up surrounded by friends who support and care for them. However, it is equally important for them to be supportive and caring friends themselves. 

Here are 7 things you can teach your child about building great friendships that will last a lifetime.

1. Teach Them The Value of Respect and Compassion 

Encouraging your child to treat others with kindness and respect is an important value to instil in your child. Teaching young people to be kind and respectful to others makes them more empathetic to others as they grow older and helps them build deeper connections. 

Empathy can be taught, learned, and shaped through our experiences. According to researchers, empathy can mean three things. It can mean wanting to help someone in need, feeling the same emotions as another person or viewing a situation from another person’s perspective. Each is shaped through social experiences and how people around them communicate with them. 

Therefore, parenting, culture and experiences determine how a young person learns about empathy. The way you, as a parent, show compassion and respect will teach your child how to do the same. Speaking to family members, friends, or even the postman with respect will model the behaviour you wish to see in your child. 

The way you communicate and treat others has a significant influence on how your child will treat others. To help your child learn to be respectful and compassionate to others, they need to see their parents doing the same. You can read more about some of the traits parents with successful children have in our blog here

2. Teach Your Child to Be an Effective Listener 

Teaching your child to listen attentively is an essential skill that will help them build long-lasting friendships. Listening helps build trust and shows that they genuinely care about what their friends have to say. 

Teach your child to ask questions and engage in active listening when they are talking to others. This means paying attention to what the other person is saying, asking questions to clarify and responding appropriately. There is value in listening skills as it creates positive communication. 

You can teach your child how to become an effective listener by listening to your child when they are talking to you. When your child is talking to you, give them your full attention by putting your phone down and making eye contact. When conversing with your child, stop what you are doing and make eye contact. Use your body language to show you are listening by nodding. 

Make it a habit and politely ask them to put their phone down when you are trying to communicate with them. Then encourage your child to do the same when talking to others. With practice and reinforcement, your child will become a great listener, which helps facilitate meaningful friendships based on open and good communication.

3. Show Them The Value of Mutual Support 

Emphasise giving and taking, as great friendships can only thrive if there is a balance between give and take. Teach your child the importance of creating a good support system for their friends. Being there for your friends during times of need is a significant aspect of building strong, long-lasting friendships. Encourage your child to offer support, whether a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand, or just being present when one of their friends is going through a difficult time. 

Children thrive in environments where they feel connected and supported. A mutually supportive friendship is important for your child’s mental health and allows them to see the importance of building with others. One of the best things you can do to help your teen’s journey to success is to create a support system and surround them with the right coaches and mentors. You can learn more about how a support system can help your teen succeed through this free expert-led webinar on The 9 Scholar Success Habits. 

Good support systems are essential to help your child build a community of people who help raise their confidence and motivate them to achieve their goals. However, ensure your child receives the same effort and support from their friends. You don’t want your child to feel like they are continually pouring their energy into helping others and forgetting to set aside time for themselves. 

4. Teach Your Child the Importance of Being Trustworthy

Any successful friendship requires a level of trust between two people. Being trustworthy and sticking to your promises can help build trust within your child. Ensure your child understands the role and importance of honesty in building great friendships through trust. 

Building trust starts by leading by example. If you make a mistake, use it as an opportunity to admit it and model trustworthy behaviour honestly. When your child can see how honesty helps build trust between you two, they will learn the importance of trust in relationships and incorporate these values into their friendships. 

Your child will prove to their friends that they can be trusted and relied upon by being honest. Encourage them to keep their promises and be reliable. Teach them that being a trustworthy friend means telling the truth, even in difficult situations.

5. Communicate Effectively

Your child will meet and interact with many people with different personality types throughout their lives. Learning how to adapt their communication style depending on the situation can help them empathise and connect better with the person they are talking to. Show them how to recognise when a more assertive or passive approach may be appropriate. 

Encourage your child to communicate their feelings and thoughts clearly and respectfully. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. This will help them navigate various social situations and maintain healthy relationships with friends. Being a great communicator is an essential soft skill that will help them go on to have successful lives while building great friendships. 

When people feel more comfortable in a conversation, they are more likely to cooperate and more willing to help you achieve the intended goal. For example, some cultures find speaking louder offensive, while others find talking softer to show a lack of confidence. Therefore, understanding who you are communicating with and adapting your communication style and tone to communicate effectively is an essential and most in-demand future skill. You can discover more Scholar Success Habits by accessing the free expert-led webinar here

Therefore, teaching your child to communicate effectively is an important skill that will help them not only build great friendships but will also help them lead successful careers. 

6. Encourage Them To Make Memories With Their Friends 

Do you remember your fond memories with your school friends from when you were younger? Those nostalgic feelings don’t just make you feel warm and fuzzy but are also scientifically proven to strengthen social connections. Therefore, encouraging your child to have fun with their friends will help them create lasting positive memories within their friendship groups. This helps to build stronger bonds and fosters a sense of belonging. 

Here are some ways to encourage your child to spend time with their friends and make lasting memories: 

Firstly, set the stage for positive experiences by creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere at home. Make your home where your child and their friends feel comfortable hanging out. Offer snacks, games, and a safe space for them to relax and be themselves.

You can also be supportive of your child’s friendships and interests. Take the time to get to know their friends and show genuine interest in the activities they enjoy. Doing so will give your child the confidence to explore new experiences and strengthen their bonds with friends.

Another way to encourage your child to have fun with friends is by providing opportunities for group activities. Set outings to local amusement parks, museums, and sporting events. These shared experiences will create lasting memories and deepen their friendships. 

7. Teach Your Child How to Deal with Conflict 

Everyone is unique, with different thoughts and beliefs; disagreements may happen occasionally. As your child navigates different relationships and friendships with different people, there may likely be times when conflict will occur. Teaching your child how to deal with conflict positively, peacefully and respectfully is important. 

You can achieve this by teaching your child to slow down and think about why the conflict occurred. Then you can ask them to speak about how this makes them feel and help them identify why it makes them feel this way. Once you have pinpointed why the conflict occurred, you can teach your child how to brainstorm solutions that could help solve the problem.

By doing this, you can teach your child how to critically analyse a situation and help them grow their critical thinking skills. Thereby allowing your child to approach problems from a different perspective that is not based on reacting to negative emotions. 

By teaching your child these seven things, they will be well-equipped to build great friendships that will last a lifetime. But remember, as much as you want to help your child build these important skills. It’s also important to let them start friendships naturally. You want to avoid being a helicopter parent as this may cause them to feel pressured and affect their progress. 

GT Scholars