We live in a world that is marked by hatred.
It is flourishing with disgust.
Bullying, teasing, taunting, manipulating and even murdering is running amuck!
What the world really needs are people who are uplifting, supportive and generous.
We need more individuals to step out of this hole that we are in and step up to the light!
How to do that?
Create real and true friends!
The more friends we have in one another, the more we can positively change our world!
As parents, we have the power to raise our babies to actually be great friends to others!
Isn’t that incredible?
Here’s how you can teach your child to be a real and true friend.
1. Check Yourself!
In order to show our children how to be a real and true friend, we must take a closer look at ourselves.
What are our friendships like with those around us?
Are we kind, caring, loving and supportive?
Or are we passive-aggressive, jealous and manipulative?
Think about this for a minute.
You don’t have to tell me what your heart is saying.
Just be truly honest with yourself!
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I have to say that I recently went through a period where I hated everyone!
I felt so angry with the world that I was not the best “friend” role model to my kids.
It took a very long time (let’s just say a good two and a half years) before I could break my own cycle of anger and hatred.
When I was in the midst of it, I knew that it was wrong.
I knew that what I was putting out there was wrong.
And I knew that my kids seeing my frustrations were not healthy for them.
It wasn’t until a neighbor of mine was recently killed in a horrific car crash that I started to break the cycle.
Instead of anger with my neighbors/friends, I started to feel my heart melt.
Sort of like in the movie: How the Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch hears the Whos singing and his heart gets bigger?
For me, it was just like that.
I immediately felt compassion, sadness and a desire to comfort.
I became more involved with the neighborhood on pulling together for the family.
It was a shame that that tragedy even happened.
But it is what broke my terrible cycle of bitterness and frustration.
Since then, I have learned to try to let things go.
(Sometimes, that’s not always easy to do, but I try)
Things that I would originally get upset about, I am learning to conquer and overcome.
We cannot heal our own pain and bitterness over night.
It takes time.
It is good for your children to watch you make the effort.
So do not feel as though you have to get yourself 100% before you teach your child how to be a real and true friend.
Children need to learn that we are not perfect either.
When your child watches you make changes in order to be a better person, it teaches them how to do that, too!
2. Model Good Friendship
This is so important.
It is real easy for us to expect more from our children than we do our own selves.
But we need to make certain that we are modeling what it is to be a good friend.
Let’s think about this for a minute.
What does it mean to be a good friend?
What do you like from a friendship?
Someone with whom you can trust with just about anything?
Someone who you can hang out with when it is your turn to have a day out?
How about someone who calls and checks in on you to see if you need anything?
Maybe a good friend is someone with whom you can depend on to be there when you need help the most?
Are you this way for someone in your life?
Is Your Child Watching You?
Is your child paying attention when you drop what you are doing to run and help a friend?
How about when you comfort a friend on the phone when that friend is facing a hardship?
Does your child see and maybe even take part in celebrating your friend’s birthday as though it is the greatest holiday of the year?!
Maybe your child sees how you take the time to write a thank you card to your friend after receiving a gift.
All of these examples are ways of modeling good friendship to your child.
When your child sees you being a good friend then it will be more likely that your little one will follow in your footsteps!
3. Talk About Friendship
Life is busy.
It can be hard to sit down and make time to chat with your child.
Take 5 minutes and just ask your child this simple question:
What do you think it means to be a good friend?
See what your child has to say!
This can be a great way to start the conversation.
You can also ask your child what is likable about a current friendship that is being experienced.
Still Not Sure How to Chat?
Books can also be great conversation starters!
There are all kinds of books about kids and friendships!
Infact, there are so many that it is hard to recommend them all!
But there is one that is our family’s favorite!
You can find it here.
There is also a great series of books about friendship that we enjoy reading.
You can find this here.
If you are super creative, you can even write your own little book about friendship!
Read it to your child!
Let them color or illustrate the pictures!
Because you wrote it, they are sure to love it!
4. Role Play
Role playing new skills is a great way to learn them!
By pretending to be in a specific role, your child gets the opportunity to practice the skill!
You and your child can pretend to be friends.
Act out a scenario where you are the friend and your child has to demonstrate kindness.
You can pretend to be running and then fall and scrape your knee.
Your child can practice being a good friend by asking if you are okay or going to get a band-aid.
Give your child some feedback about their actions.
If they did not demonstrate the skill correctly, you can gently remind them of some things that they can do next time.
YOU: “That was a good try, Suzy, but putting sand on a scraped knee might actually hurt it more.
Next time, maybe you can just run and tell your friend’s mommy or daddy that they got hurt.”
You can think of some different scenarios ahead of time and act them out.
It may help your child see perspective and simply be a fun learning time for you both!
5. Give Your Child Opportunity
Give your child the opportunity to make friends and keep friends!
Take your child to the park or sign them up for a swim class!
Provide encouragement when it comes to meeting new people!
If your child already has some friends, invite them over!
That way, you can see how your child responds to them.
It is also a great time to gently step in if your child is not being a good friend.
If your child snatches a toy from a friend and you are around to witness it, you can step in.
You can say: “Remember, if we want a turn with a toy, we need to ask nicely.”
It may be also wise not to embarrass your child when teaching in front of friends.
Perhaps make it a reminder to everyone in the room when you go to remind your child.
The word “we” is a wonderful word in these instances.
It prevents us from accusing just one person and perhaps make them feel bad in the process.
You can also simply pull your child aside after friends have gone home and talk about the situation.
Discuss what your child can do better for next time.
When your child has opportunity to meet new children then there is more opportunity to practice being a good friend!
Continue to Model, Practice and Give Opportunity
Learning any new skill takes time and practice!
I truly believe that we learn how to become good friends over time.
Sometimes we will make mistakes in our friendships.
Words can get misconstrued, and feelings can get hurt.
Friends may walk away.
These downfalls are also part of a friendship.
Continue to model even when friendships fall apart.
Even when we have done all that we can to be a good friend.
Continue to encourage your child to be the best friend possible.
Comfort your child when friendships fail.
Help your child pick up the pieces and move on to finding other friends.
Life is full of these ups and downs, but when we offer the very best of ourselves, we offer the brightest light to the rest of the world.
People need good friends.
And your child may be the very best friend someone out there may have.
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!