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A Parent's Role in Supporting their Child to Make Friends

Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day’s latest book ‘Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict’ was recently voted the Sunday Times' number 1 bestseller. The book explores friendships; their value, the struggles they present, how to make them, and how to not need them. It is clear, friendships are a hot topic, and a crucial component of our wellbeing, both for adults and children.

When I first became a teacher, I was taught how to plan and deliver academic subjects, but there was little training on how to support children emotionally and certainly nothing about how to teach them to build friendships or cope with the problems that can arise when navigating friendships.

  • As adults, we recognise that we will not get along with everyone. We also know how to manage our feelings around this and that there is a difference between being friendly and having a friendship and over time, we learn how to find our people.
  • This is what we want for our children too, and I am often asked for support on this subject. How can we ensure our children have good friends, can be good friends, and be ok if they haven’t found genuine friendships yet?
  • A strong sense of self is key to building a solid foundation from which your child can be confident in who they are, as well as recognise healthy friendships from unhealthy ones. They need to have the self-belief to know they don’t need validation or approval from others. Parents can play a role here.
  • A good start is to seek out your child’s opinion on things, enable them to make decisions (within reason!), and to “practice” being the decision maker in the safety of their home. Supporting their development as a person will ultimately give them the security required to assert their needs when it comes to friendships.

At Role Models, supporting children in finding themselves, and hearing their own voice is woven into everything we teach. When I speak to our Role Models about their Masterclass sessions, they often tell me that friendship discussions are particularly pertinent with our 11-13 year olds and that rather than addressing individual problems with a particular friend or peer, the children gain a lot from learning strategies that help them trust and believe in themselves.

My colleague, Louise Treherne, and I have been discussing how to embed the necessary skills lately. We’ve decided to host a whole webinar on Tuesday 9thMay, ‘Supporting Children to Develop Positive Friendships’. If any part of this blog has resonated, then do come along. We know the road can be rocky, but finding even one good friend is worth the journey.

Register Here

Developing friendships at a young age can shape our identity for the rest of our lives. I know as parents and teachers of this next generation; we would love nothing more than to smooth the ‘friendship’ pathway that lies ahead. Though it maybe, challenging, it is important to recognise the value in supporting children to navigate this terrain themselves and in doing so, build their emotional resilience. We can be there for support, but ultimately, we need to give children the chance to decide for themselves the best course of action.

In creating these opportunities now, we help children develop the social skills and connections that will carry them with them into adulthood and the workplace.

Louise and Frances will unpack 10 practical strategies for parents that will help their children 'find their tribe' via live webinar.

You'll learn:

  • How children can develop healthy friendships
  • The role of resilience in developing friendships that last
  • The difference between a 'Growth Mindset' and a 'Fixed Mindset'

Register Here

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