Friendship is an important concept to explore with young children. Being a good friend is an important life skill – one that doesn’t come naturally. You can’t just expect your kids to know how to be a good friend by getting them together with other kids and leaving them to figure it out.

Remember – the only way to have great friends is to be a great friend.

Teaching Kids About Friendship

 

I love that homeschooling offers me the flexibility to incorporate the every day into my lessons in any way that makes sense to my family.

Sometimes finding resources that meet all my kids where they are {ages 12, 7, 5, and almost 2} is the biggest challenge of all. The library and Netflix make it easy to either introduce new concepts or reinforce them, and hit each age level appropriately.

So, how do we teach our children to be great friends?

 

Talk about the characteristics that make a great friend.

Great friends…

  • are trustworthy.
  • are people you can count on.
  • remember important events like birthdays, anniversaries, or special memories.
  • like spending time with each other.
  • help out when friends are in trouble.
  • cheer you up when you’re sad.
  • keep in touch.

 

Role play tough friendship situations and lead by example.

Sometimes kids can find themselves in situations where they’re not sure how to behave. Being a good friend gets hard when issues related to sharing, compromise, and dealing with the disappointment of things just not going like your child may have planned surface. These are important life lessons.

Life can be great.

Teaching Kids About Friendship

 

And life can be hard.

Collect ideas from situations in your kids’ real life to use, and make it a game. When we practice dealing with disappointment and disagreeing appropriately, we use this technique. I have index cards set aside with scenarios:

  • Someone is using the playground equipment you want, and won’t take turns.
  • Your friend is over and doesn’t want to do any of the activities you had planned.
  • A boy in your co-op class is teasing you, and none of the adults have noticed.
  • Your best friend is sad because her fish died.

Model the correct reactions for your kids, and play along with them. Be the friend. Be the bully. Be the kid forced to make the choice in whatever scenario you’ve designed. {And choose wrong sometimes.}

Let your kids see you being a great friend, too. Call your friends on their birthdays. Bring the neighbor some of the muffins you just baked. Pull together meals or help out a friend who suffers a loss or welcomes a new baby.

 

Read books and watch movies or shows about friendship.

There are so many great books about friendship. Friends helping friends overcome huge challenges abound. From My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann for little ones to epics like the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Lord of the Rings series for bigger kids…there is no shortage of books to be found.

Some of my favorites are below.

 

Books for Little Kids

 

Books for Big Kids

 

 

We don’t have cable television, and haven’t for a long time, but Netflix has long been a yearly homeschool expense for us. There are great movies and shows to help support any learning theme, and friendship is no different.

Some of our absolute favorite Netflix shows about friendship are:

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Make being a friend a priority.

The only way kids can truly learn to be great friends is to put them into situations where they can build friendships. Playdates, co-ops, classes, park days, and family get-togethers all provide wonderful opportunities to grow friendships.

Try using this fun printable to help your kids think about what they love best about their friends – and to show their BFFs that they are appreciated {click the thumbnail to download and print}:

My Best Friend Printable via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

Don’t overlook the friendships that can grow within your own home. It’s so important that kids foster friendships with their siblings. Brothers and sisters are perfect to practice with. Being a great friend to a sibling teaches important life skills and fosters lifelong friendships with the very people your kids will have a shared history with long after you’re gone.

You want them to be close and have each other, so take the time to teach them how to be friends with one another now, while you’re around to guide that.

Learning to grow strong friendships is an important life skill. It’s up to us as parents to teach our kids right. What are some of the things you’ve done to teach your kids to be great friends?

Need a few more ideas for helping your kids learn to be great friends? Check out some of these great articles from the Early Childhood Education Team:

 

Teaching Kids About Friendship

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam; all opinions are mine – I really love to share the different ways we use streaming video to enhance our unit studies, and maybe encourage you to find great programs for your kids, too.

Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.