Teaching preschoolers how to be a good friend may seem like a difficult task, but it is an important social skill to develop in young kids. Teaching children to interact with other kids in a positive way despite conflict and emotional highs will serve them well in the future.
This week the Early Childhood Education Team is sharing posts on teaching kids about making friends. Be sure to check them all out below and follow #TeachECE on social media.
I want to set my kids up for success when it comes to making friends and interacting with other children. So I like to teach them appropriate ways to act in the various situations they may face in the classroom, on the playground, at church or any other place where they are playing with other children. There are several things I do to accomplish this.
Model Friendly Behavior for Your Children
This is one of the best ways to teach children how to make and keep friends. Show your children appropriate interactions with your own friends. Show them how to be kind and caring. When you help your friend pack her belongings for a move or lend a hand around her house while she is sick, your children will see that. It may not dawn on them immediately, but they are seeing that you are willing to sacrifice your own time for someone else.
Next time a kid in their preschool class drops their box of crayons and they spill everywhere, your child may the one to get down on the floor and help them clean them up instead of continuing to play with that really cool airplane toy they were enjoying. Now that’s being a great friend!
When you have disagreements with your spouse and you practice self-control, you are modeling kind behavior despite conflict. Even when you have disagreements and don’t handle yourself correctly, it’s important to model what to do after the fact. Show them how to say sorry and ask for forgiveness. This is such a valuable lesson for them to see and something that will serve them well throughout their life. Knowing how to apologize and repair relationships is so important to being a good friend.
I know this is easier said than done. I struggle with this as a parent too. I am not always the best model of the type of behavior I want them to have in their interactions with friends and family. It is something that I am striving to do better at and when I do mess up, I use that as an opportunity to show them how to repair the relationship.
Use Role Play to Practice Being a Good Friend
Another fantastic way to teach children to be a good friend is to use role play. I like to come up with various scenarios they may face and we practice appropriate interactions together. For instance, we have been working on how to introduce yourself to someone and find out their name.
Evan often meets and plays with kids at the park, but he never knows their name. Instead of calling them by name, he will say “Hey” or “Hey, kid” or something else like that. So lately we have been practicing these kinds of interactions. I pretend to be the other child and I encourage him to introduce himself by name and then ask me what my name is. Here is an example:
Evan: Hi, my name is Evan. What is your name?
Me: Hi, Evan. My name is Katie.
Evan: Would you like to play with me?
Acting out this scenario is setting him up for better interactions with other children when he meets them. He still forgets to do this quite often, but we are working on it. Sometimes we even give him subtle reminders when he is in a situation like this.
Here are some additional scenarios we like to role play.
- What to do when another child takes a toy from you.
- What to do when you want a toy that a child is already playing with.
- What to do when a friend has an accident (makes a mess, falls down, etc.)?
- What to do when someone is mean to you.
If your child has a sibling, they are probably faced with these types of interactions daily. I like to use these as opportunities to discuss appropriate responses to these situations. Learning how to be kind to your siblings and navigate conflict with them, is an excellent way to practice being a good friend. Siblings are often your child’s first friend and the best practice for the future!
Read Books About Being a Good Friend
Reading books in which the characters face and navigate varying social interactions with friends is an excellent way to teach kids about being a good friend. Books also serve as a great launching point for discussions about being a good friend. While reading, stop to discuss the behavior and how the characters are handling themselves. Afterward, discuss the resolution and what you might do differently if you found yourself in the same situation.
Here is a Giant List of Books about Friendship from The Measured Mom.
We are continuing to do all of these things throughout the preschool year ahead. I hope that it sets him up for a lifetime of success when it comes to being a great friend and a person who can get along with others. What would you add to this post? How do you teach your child to be a good friend?
More Posts about Making Friends from the ECE Team:
Songs About Friendship for Kinder and Pre-K by Capri +3
Teaching Kids About Friendship and Being a Good Friend by Raising Lifelong Learners
Making Friends: Teaching Kids to Learn and Respect Different Names by Munchkins and Moms
How to Play with Friends a Preschoolers Visual Guide and Game by Powerful Mothering
Helping Your Homeschooler Socialize by Still Playing School
Making Friends Even When You Are Homeschooled by Learning 2 Walk
Making Friends: Qualities We Look For in Friends by Tiny Tots Adventures
Book Friends by Growing Book by Book
Tips for Helping Preschoolers BE a Good Friend! #TeachECE by The Preschool Toolbox Blog