Teaching Your Children to Be Good Friends
by Tricia Goyer
With a new school year comes new clothes, new supplies and new books. But your kids are often greeted with new faces in their classrooms too. Here are some ways to guide your children in being a good friend.
Explain what a good friend is: Someone you care for and trust. Someone you can talk to and laugh with. Someone who is by your side in the good times and the bad ones. Work with your child to make a list of the attributes of a good friend. Remind your child that these attributes are things he or she should give in order to receive.
Encourage your kids to make friends with those who are different than them: older or younger kids, disabled children or those of a different ethnic or economic background. List ways your child is similar to a new friend, but also share the joy over understanding and appreciating the differences!
Remind your child to look out for the new kid at school who needs a friend, or even another child that seems lonely. Role-play with your child on how to approach that person and strike up a conversation.
Give your child permission to walk away from unhealthy friendships. My friend Leslie had a friend Candace for many years. It was only after she was older that I learned about the unkind things her friend would say to her and the many ways Candace would tease Leslie. Being a good friend is a two-way street. Tell your child that if she's being treated poorly by a friend it's important to seek a healthier friendship.
Share stories of you and your friends growing up. Then ask your child to tell you about the things he likes to do with his friend. Make a list of other activities he'd like to plan with a friend … and then schedule them!
Read Bible stories about friendship. The story of David and Jonathan is one of true friendship (1 Samuel 18:1-4). God even called Abraham his friend (2 Chronicles 20:7).
Applaud your child when she shares a personal story about being a good friend. Encourage her to share her story with someone else — such as dad or a grandparent — as further affirmation.
Model what a happy and healthy friendship looks like. Do you have a good friend? Plan get-togethers with your friend and your child. Talk about what you appreciate about your friend. My friend Michelle often comes over and plays board games with our family. Seeing adults laughing together is a great example of how friendships should be!
Tricia Goyer is the mother of one married son, two teens and a baby. More at triciagoyer.com.