Having friends among children plays an important part in their emotional and intellectual development. Children who have not got many friends find it much harder to grow up as well-balanced adults. Psychologists have found that children learn a lot about how to behave and cope with life through their friends.
Parents’ fears of the bad influences of friends are not usually justified. Friends help children to see life from another’s point of view, so that they can learn more about concern for others.
So as parent, what you can do about friends of your child? Dr. Joan Freeman, a child psychologist suggested the following:
1. From about a year old, make sure your child mixes with other babies. They won’t play together yet, but they’ll get used to having each other around.
2. Help your toddler learn to share toys and adult attention by encouraging it patiently and gently. The message will get through in time.
3. Respect your child’s choice of friends, though it may be surprising, or even hard at times. It’s part of your respect for your child as a person.
4. Try not to be too protective; children learn about others from their own mistakes, and don’t always appreciate an adult’s point of view as to who it is worth being friends with.
5. Clever children do take special pleasure in meeting others who are like them.