Little friendships have big gains. Why children need friends too!
Sleepovers, birthday parties and playgrounds – your little one’s life is a whirl of all this. While it seems like fun and games ( and it is), there is also serious learning in these activities. That is where they start making their community, and just like we like spending time with friends, and they make us feel better, children too enjoy the company of their friends. Friendships start young and may have advantages beyond the obvious engagement.
Starting from as young as age six months little ones show excitement at seeing a peer. At age two, children seek out the company of other little ones and show an interest in playing with them, even comforting them or offering them a toy. They also show a preference at times, and you will observe that while they are often happy just playing beside each other, some names will crop up more often in their prattle than others.
Research has consistently demonstrated the importance of friendship and its impact on mental and physical health. Preschool friendships are helpful in developing social and emotional skills, sharing and caring, increasing a sense of belonging and navigating the social milieu.
Paul Schwartz, a professor of psychology and child behavior expert, has noted the many benefits of childhood friendships. “Friendships contribute significantly to the development of social skills, such as being sensitive to another’s viewpoints, learning the rules of conversation, and age-appropriate behaviors,”
So what can we do to make sure our little ones are socially well adjusted and know how to make friends?
Make play dates where they can meet other children their age. Make sure they are in a safe space and have safe toys. Then leave them alone to play as you keep a watchful eye.
Enrol in fun activities like swimming, reading groups, nature trails or even football and cricket and let them have fun. Make sure there is no pressure to perform and be there in the moment with them and their friends.
Encourage other children in the neighborhood to drop in and engage with your little one. One on one play time is as important as a group.
Visit the local playground as often as you can so they can learn to interact with more children and make new connections as they indulge in unstructured free play.
Get involved with school groups and activities. Chaperone a group to the zoo, railway station or local park and watch them engage.
Be a good friend. You are the role model they look up to at all times. So be the friend that you wish them to be. Spend time with them listening, playing and engaging with them in fun ways.
Friends are the siblings we choose for ourselves and love them or fight with them; we need them in our lives. Let your little ones learn young to make these precious connections that enrich our lives! Happy friendship day and here is to new friendships!
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