By Lauren Galley
One of the biggest issues for children in school is making and keeping friends. Every child wants to be liked and have friends. It is so important for parents to teach their kids how to be a good friend, especially with issues such as bullying and low self-esteem on the rise. I believe it is very important for parents to remember the elements that going into have a good friend and how to spot real friends!
1. Pay attention when he tells you about his day, his interaction with classmates, terms he overhead, rumors he was told. Learning about your child’s friends and what activities they are involved in can help you guide him in making good friend-related choices. For example, kids in late elementary and middle school tend to want to be “cool” and might think the boy/girl who smokes is a great friend choice because of the “cool” factor.
2. Be a Good Example: Set a good precedent by saying “thank you” and “please,” greeting your friends in a friendly way in front of your children, paying attention to a friend and not allowing your child to interrupt. Talking behind a friend’s back in a negative way in front of your children teaches them it’s okay for them to talk this way with their friends. I have heard Moms and Dads talk negatively about others in front of my friend and me. Even though we might know it’s not right, it still sends a message that if Mom and Dad can do it then so can I. Kids are sponges and pick up on each clue you put down for them, both the deliberate and the unintentional ones… I believe leading by a positive precedent is very important.
3. Birds of a Feather: One of the things my Mom taught me was the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This is so true, and kids today need to really be taught to seek friends who have their morals, values, and interests. Being popular isn’t the most important thing, even though many kids feel this is what defines them. Teaching children to be loyal, kind, and good listeners is critical. How much money you have, how your house is, and what type of car you drive are not what makes a true friend.
Friends come and go, and there is always the drama of he-said/she-said and “we are not friends anymore,” only to find the next day they are best friends forever! Parents must guide their children and teach, but to also let their children choose their friends and learn from consequences when things don’t go as planned.