We all know how important it is to be surrounded by good people as we grow up. Having caring, supportive and encouraging friends going through childhood and beyond makes a huge difference to our development, and as parents, we do all we can to encourage this. While it’s not a great idea to pick your child's friends for them, it is possible to teach them all you can about being a good friend themselves, which in turn will attract the sort of friends they want to have around them.
Here are some top tips for teaching your preschooler how to be a good buddy.
1. Lead by example
Lots of the main characteristics of a good friend are things that can be easily taught from a very young age around the home. These don’t require any planning whatsoever, as they are all things that can be picked up from your and your partners own behaviour towards your child and in interactions with other people. The way you respond to questions, offer sympathy or hugs to friends or deal with stressful situations are all going to affect how your child behaves as he or she develops.
Similarly, make sure you value your own friendships too. If you spend your evenings ranting about your so-called friends behind their back, your child won't be learning the best lesson!
2. Encourage Compassion
Compassion is something that some preschoolers develop naturally, and you can see this through their instant connection with soft toys, animals or underdogs in stories or films. Some kids are a bit more oblivious, and can need a few gentle reminders. If your child is showing a lack of compassion towards someone else, try explaining how this action would have made them feel rather than just saying if it’s good or bad.
eg. ‘calling Max slow when we were out playing will make him feel sad. We don’t want to make people feel sad.’
Similarly, highlighting how actions will make people feel positively will encourage your kid to repeat it.
‘Letting Sophie share your birthday present with you was a very kind thing to do. She’ll be really happy. What a good friend!’
3. Watch and read stories based on friendship
Lots of children’s books are based around friendships between kids, animals, toys or adults. Focussing on these books and asking questions around them can encourage your child to think about having friendships of their own.Here’s a list of books that contain friendships for young children.
4. Talk about what makes a good friend
Being a good friend as a preschooler involves more than just offering to share your chocolate. This can be complicated for toddlers, given their general belief that their needs come first. However as they grow they can begin to learn the characteristics of people who are considered kind and friendly, so they can apply it to their own behavior. These are really things they can only learn by experience or from you explaining to them. Introduce and talk about correct times to apologise, how to be a good listener, how to be sympathetic, say no politely, forgive, be a good team player and how to be helpful when others need it.
5. Practice with siblings
Siblings are notorious for having squabbles, but they are also one of the first relationships that your child will have, and a great way for them to learn about how to interact with others. Encourage real friendship between siblings, make sure they learn from their fall outs and practise good manners towards each other.
Having good friends is a hugely important part of life. Helping your kids understand what makes a good friend and how to be one will encourage them to surround themself with caring, supportive people and hopefully turn into one themselves! Attending preschool is a great way to get your kids interacting and creating friendships from an early age. Our Kids Konnect preschools really encourage this development, and kids learn by participating in games with rules and inclusivity of different abilities.
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