The world is a happier place when individuals are friendly to each other. Whether you intend to become friends with an individual or you simply want to be nice to someone else, a smile and a kind word can go a long way towards a happy, healthy environment. Because there is so much animosity in the world today, it’s important for parents to teach their child how to spread love and empathy through friendships, preparing them for a positive future.
What is friendliness?
It seems fairly obvious that friendliness entails being nice to everyone. However, people often define friendliness differently, depending on the exact situation and how it’s applied. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, friendliness is defined as “kindly concern, interest, or support.” If you would prefer to use a synonym of friendliness as part of educating your children, you may wish to use:
Respect Is Essential
When you think about being friendly to someone else, you may not immediately think of respect. However, respect is an important element in teaching your child how to successfully interact with other people. Not only will they be able to achieve friendly relations with just about anyone, but they will also earn the respect of others,which can help them go further in life, whether they’re looking for a promotion or they want to make a good first impression with a significant other’s family.
Being respectful starts in the home. Children who aren’t taught to respect their parents and their siblings will often be disrespectful to strangers as well. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you set the foundation for respectful behavior at home from an early age. The earlier you teach your children to respect those who are older than them, as well as their peers, the easier it will be to apply those principles to all areas of their lives. Proper discipline can also help your child learn to respect those who are in authority over them.
Learn How to Make New Friends
In addition to teaching your child how to respect others, it’s also essential to help your child learn about making friends. While some children make friends easily, many children need some extra guidance to help them learn how to befriend their peers, as well as how to keep them for the long term. As parents, it’s important to do your part in helping your child learn the skills they will need for their lives.
Teach Basic Friendship Skills
The first step in helping your child develop the friendliness they need to interact well with others is to address basic friendship skills. This is especially important if you have a child who suffers from social awkwardness or social anxiety. One of the best ways to teach these skills is to model them yourself. Let your child see you be friendly to the cashier at the store or your own friends and relatives. You should also let your child see you express empathy, such as taking a meal to a sick friend, neighbor or family member or sending a card for a special occasion.
Children learn most easily by following your example and practicing what they’ve learned. When you’re teaching your child about friendliness, role playing can be a valuable tool in helping them develop the skills necessary to be friendly with others and develop lifelong friendships. Even something as simple as going through various ways to introduce yourself to someone can be a valuable asset as they go about their daily lives. Encourage your child to practice with family members and existing friends so they’ll be prepared when they’re presented with an opportunity.
You can help your child through the learning process by creating opportunities for them to try and practice the skills they’ve learned along the way. Schedule play dates with the children of friends and family members, especially if your child has never met them or doesn’t interact with them often. These play dates should be at your home to start so your child is in his comfort zone. After that, expand out to parks, other public areas and even other people’s homes. Make sure you are nearby to supervise, especially when your child is younger, so you can intervene if necessary. However, it’s important to keep interventions to a minimum.
Being friendly isn’t always about making friends. Friendliness can also be about helping others. For this reason, it can be valuable to find ways to volunteer together. Take your child to a nursing home and visit the elderly. These individuals sometimes go long periods of time without seeing their own family and friends. They also love interacting with children, making it a great opportunity for your child to practice being friendly. Other volunteering opportunities may include:
- Serving food at a homeless shelter
- Volunteering at the animal shelter
- Donating toys to a children’s hospital
- Helping an aging neighbor with yard work
- Making food for a sick relative or friend
While taking part in these activities, your child will get a chance to interact with others and showcase their new friendliness skills. Ask your child if he has any ideas for helping out in the community as well. The more involved your child is in the process, the better the results will be.
One of the most difficult aspects of friendliness is learning how to keep things civil when disagreements arise. A part of having friends is learning how to disagree and argue without creating too much animosity or destroying the friendship altogether. This can be extremely difficult for children. When someone makes them angry, the natural reaction is to lash out. It’s up to you to teach them more constructive ways of handling these disputes so they can keep their friendships intact.
- Offer your love and support. If your child feels comfortable coming to you to talk about things, you can help guide them through this time and help them make the right decisions.
- Talk to your child about what they expect to happen as a result of the argument.
- Encourage your child to admit their part in the disagreement and to extend the olive branch. Sometimes it’s best to be the one to apologize, even if you weren’t the one to start the argument.
- Remind your child of the positive elements of their friendship. It can be easy to forget about the good times when you’re going through bad ones.
- Try not to interfere. As a parent, it’s easy to want to swoop in and rescue your child from the pain, but it’s important to let children learn how to sort things out for themselves. This can be a valuable tool as they encounter conflict in all areas of their lives.
It’s Not a Popularity Contest
Many children fall victim to the thinking that having a lot of friends is the way to determine your level of success in life. While it can be nice to have a lot of people you can turn to, friendliness is about more than just making new friends; it’s also about making a difference in other people’s lives and making the world a better place to live. Emphasize the importance of making solid friendships where you know you can rely on the other person to always be there for you. When you’re friendly, you will have a lot of acquaintances, but it’s the real, true friends who will always be there when you need them most.
Developing friendships and being friendly may be two different things, but they are both equally important elements in life. As your children grow up, they will be in situations that will warrant being friendly with other people for the sake of making the world a better place. There are other situations where making a friend is the top priority. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure your child is prepared with all the skills they need to become successful adults. This includes knowing how to be friendly to the people they encounter in their daily lives, as well as how to make friends and keep them.
Working with your child should be your top priority. Not only can you teach them by talking to them about friendliness, but you can also help guide them by displaying your own friendships. This will show them that being friendly and having friends is important for everyone, regardless of age.