It’s fabulous to see our littlies interacting with their peers, warming to one another and developing friendships. After all, we all need friends, and it would be wrong to underestimate the importance of little friendships.
Some littlies need encouragement, can find it hard to make the first move, and aren’t quite sure how to progress socially, so what can we do to help?
Well, for starters, it’s worth remembering that littlies look to their parents for social cues. So, if you’re warm and welcoming, your littlies will be too. If you smile, chat easily and are open to friendships, you’ll be teaching your littlie some important lessons.
If that’s just not you, don’t worry, because even if you’re a bit shy, being receptive to other’s approaches, being responsive and allowing yourself to be engaged, teach your littlies to be the same, even if they aren’t confident enough to make the first move.
Littlies love to chat about their friends.
You’re bound to hear names and stories repeated over and over, and you’ll see for yourself how beautifully they play. Allow them to elaborate, ask questions and learn as much as you can about who they like being with. Nurture those friendships by arranging play dates, shared activities and birthday parties. These will help your littlie to secure and develop friendships, and give tacit approval of her choice of friends. Which is important at this stage.
Encourage your littlies to find friendships where they can.
Everyone is a potential friend; so don’t allow them to be discouraged by colour, gender or other distinctions. It may not suit you to have to drop littlies at parties on the other side of town, and you may favour girl friends for your daughters, but friendship isn’t and shouldn’t be determined by convenience. Friendship just is. Allow littlies to make their choices, and their lives will be richer for them.
Forming friendships is an essential part of growing up. Friends can provide comfort and fun, build confidence and a sense of belonging, and can be lifelong and as fulfilling as familial relationships.
Teach your littlies how to make and keep friends, and you’ll teach them the secret to happiness.
Abi Gold is a family therapist, counsellor, family mediator and writer.
And she’s a mum of four, so she knows a thing or two about juggling! Abi specialises in helping busy mums and dads to meet the challenges of raising their families, and is an expert in maternal mental health and family relationships