Teaching Kids Life Skills: Being a Good Friend

Teaching Kids Life Skills: Being a Good Friend

Have you struggled with teaching kids about friendships?  Making friends (and keeping them) are importantlife skills to have.  Here are some simple ways to help teach your child about being a good friend.  We at Kids Activities Blog  know the importance of friendship because the only way to have a friend is to be a friend.

Having good friends makes you happy. Friendships can be developed within families, in neighborhoods, in schools, and even over the internet. Being a good friend is not a skill that kids just pick up from hanging out with other children on the playground. Developing friendships takes a lot of work (both by parents and kids), but can be one of the most rewarding things to happen in a child’s life.

How can we teach kids about friendship?

1. Clearly explain what good friends do.

2. Read books about friendship. There are so many amazing friendships portrayed in children and young adult literature. Some of my favorite books to read with my kids are ones in the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. Reading these books together gives us an opportunity to talk about Frog and Toad’s relationship and the characteristics of a good friend (helpful, thoughtful, supportive, generous, good listener, etc). We also love reading the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. These books show how friends can be very different from one another and still get along. They emphasize the importance of being kind, sharing, and working together to solve problems.

3. Role play how to be a good friend. I like to keep a running list of friendship scenarios (good and bad) that come up when my kids are having playdates with their friends. Once we are home, my husband and I can role play the scenarios while our son watches, or we can include him in the positive role and have him practice positive friendship characteristics (sharing, saying kind words, sticking up for a friend, etc.). We don’t typically role play the negative situations because we like to emphasize the skills we wantto see. You can even write your own stories about the scenarios and read them again and again.

4. Set a good example and be a good friend yourself.  This is one of the greatest ways to teach kids about being a good friend.Talk to your kids about your friends in positive ways. Make time for your friends and find opportunities to help them, and bring your kids along so that they can be involved too. Think about the characteristics you value in good friends and consistently demonstrate them yourself.  

5. Spend time with friends and new people. It is hard to develop friendships if you aren’t around people! We love to get outand get involved in our community. We go to parks, sign up for classes and sports activities, get outside and meet neighbors, volunteer at schools, and participate in church and town events. We also enjoy spending time together as a family because we want our kids to be friends. We work together on home projects, play games, create, and do acts of kindness for one another.

What are some friendship building activities you can do?

Being a friend doesn’t always come naturally. You have to practice! When you meet someone new you need to know how to maintain a conversation with them.

Speed Chatting is a fun way to help kids develop good conversation skills. Brainstorm some simple questions ahead of time, grab a friend, set a timer, and encourage your child to ask his friend questions for one minute while the friend listens and responds… then switch. Once they are done chatting, encourage the kids to tell you what they learned about each other. Listening and then sharing the information with someone else will help kids internalize what they heard and remember it better.

Team building activities help develop friendships. Simple activities we like to do together include building obstacle courses, making forts, baking, and constructing blocks towers. All of these activities are pretty open ended, require some problem solving and negotiation, and encourage communication, which are all great friendship skills to have!

Teaching kids to be a good friend will help them make lasting friendships throughout their lives.  Life skills like these are important to learn at an early age because it will become more natural for your child the more they practice these skills.  For more kids activities that teach kids about being a good friend and other life skills, you may want to take a look at these ideas:

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