Can you remember your first friend? I grew up in the country, so my friendship circle was limited to how far I could travel by bicycle! It was a great day in first grade when another first grade girl moved just down the road from me! I’ve lost track of Krissy now, but some of my school friends are still in my life today.
Did you know that children need practice learning to develop friendship skills? Foundations of friendship begin at birth with a child’s first relationships with caregivers. This is where they learn empathy, being able to feel for others and friendship, being able to relate with others. Bonding is created through a baby looking into your eyes or being held or rocked. As they get older, babies will respond to seeing you or hearing your voice.
Babies also learn to take turns from caregivers. Games like peek-a-boo and stacking blocks signal to children that I will do something and then you do something in return.
As children reach toddlerhood, they learn more about the world around them and are excited to show that they care for others. You may see imaginary play at this age like a tea party where they can pretend to do things with friends.
Preschoolers are learning to be better about sharing their toys and usually play with other children based on the activity each child is participating in rather than who the other child is. Children of this age are also aware of how another child is feeling and can use words to describe their own feelings more readily.
Children are learning skills in their early years that will allow them to develop good friendships later like: self-control, consideration, communication, predicting, thinking, coping and flexibility.
While I’ve got you thinking about friends, why don’t you reach out to one now and tell them you’re thinking about them!