The Importance of Good Friendships for Young Children

good friendships for young childrenWhen we send our children off to school, there is always that big part within ourselves wishing they will have no problems making friends. When they do make friends, that same part also hopes that they all become good friendships. After all, not only are they essential to helping our kids develop social skills, but as an article written by Anna Weinstein for states, good friendships for young children are also crucial to their achievements in school.

Friendships influence academic performance

Weinstein cites a 2002 study conducted UNC-Chapel Hill that suggests that even among very young children, there is a clear relationship between academic achievement and friendships. Subsequent research on the importance of good friendships for young children also point to the same thing. Friendships influence academic performance of young children, whether or not they are in a healthy friendship or in an unhealthy one.

Healthy friendship vs. unhealthy friendship

There are easy ways to tell good friendships for young children from bad ones. When a child is in a healthy friendship, they have respect for each other, and they speak highly and excitedly about such friends and the things they do together to their parents. The friendship brings a lot of positivity to the table. With good friendships for young people, they almost certainly do well in school. Unhealthy friendships, on the other hand, bring nothing but negativity. You will know your child is in one if he or she picks up and exhibits inappropriate behaviors or are always angry or jealous at other kids in school. And when children have these friendship issues, they can potentially develop self-esteem, depression and anxiety problems which could all lead to learning problems in school.

Parents can influence friendships in young children

The good news is parents can influence friendships in young children. Among the things that you can do is talking to them about their choices in friends. In such talks, you should always illustrate the difference between nice friends and not-so-nice ones. Young as they are, they will certainly understand what you’re getting at and hopefully, make decisions on friendships based on what you talked about. A more direct way that parents can influence friendships in young children is to arrange for play dates with other children that they know to be good kids.

Weinstein also stresses that parents can influence friendships in young children by having an open relationship with their child’s teacher, as well as an understanding of rules being enforced in their  child’s classroom. In other words, parents and the child’s teacher should always stay on the same page for them to better understand interactions among friends and other appropriate behaviors.

So if you notice that your child is in an unhealthy friendship that influences their behavior in a negative way, always remember that parents can influence friendships in young children, and waste no time in intervening before such friendships influence academic performance adversely.

Click here to read the full article.

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