Friendships teach us about ourselves and the world through every stage of life.  Friends can help us adjust, feel good about ourselves, and learn to be more giving even from our earliest ages. Often the first step to making friends is helping your child play with other children. This is where they learn about communication, positive behavior, sharing, and even dealing with hurt and rejection. Their toddler years can also be the time that you learn more about their social personality, such as introversion or shyness that can help them find the right type and number of friends for them.  Some children are perfectly happy having one or two friends during this time for instance. Others want to meet everybody. Learning what your child feels comfortable with can help you encourage them to do what’s right for them later on as they continue to make friends.  You can help by doing things like role play, some prep work, and talking through the situation to get them more comfortable when meeting other kids in case your child is chatty at home but then clams up with new people.

Making friends at school

The grade school years are when kids begin to actively pick out their friends, often for the first time. By talking about their friend experiences and helping them work through conflicts, encouraging them to meet new people (without pushing them), and teaching them about balance you can help them. This is the time for kids to understand the value of friend and alone times in their life. Friendships are important in the tween years. They might experience new problems like longing to be popular, dealing with frenemies, bullying, and manipulation by the time a child gets to middle school. Things like friend breakups are also particularly difficult now, as this might be the first time your child has to move on from a friendship that has ended. Teens have a variety of challenges as they continue to find out who they are and which friends are right for them. A good strategy is to be open to new friends but dole out trust little by little as you get to know people. As they build their self-esteem, this s also the time that teens might be moving to new schools, keeping old friends and figuring out times to see them, meeting people through new activities, and finding out more about themselves. You might feel a little overwhelmed with everything going on in your life as you enter college. . For some, this is the first time away from home. For others, this might be the first time they are entirely without friends. The right types of friends in grad school can help you obtain the right job or move ahead in the world. Friendships at this stage are often about opportunities and networking as much as connection, so be open to a variety of friends as you make your way through these years.