International Day of Friendship is a day in which we appreciate and promote friendships from all backgrounds.
This day is celebrated across the globe and aims to bridge the gap between things such as race, language and culture; matters that have no bearing on how good of a friend you can be. Friendships can be fostered between anyone, anywhere, anyhow.
Some qualities of being a good friend include, but are not limited to, empathy, compassion and concern for others. It is essential to celebrate friendship every day; by doing this, we are showing that we value our friendships, we adopt these qualities, and we can develop a more selfless look on life.
How can you and your child celebrate the International Day of Friendship?
- Plant some flower seeds; once they have bloomed, cut them and gift them to a friend
- Write thank you cards, thank your friends for being your friends and say one thing that you like about them in it
- Organise a picnic with friends
- Use our Friendship Flower at-home activity, which you can print below:
So, why is it important to have friends and encourage our children to foster friendships?
Fostering friendships is a fundamental factor in early childhood development and is especially important for children under the age of seven. Developing friendships in these crucial years gives children valuable contexts in which they can learn and practice social, cognitive, communicative and emotional development skills.
By learning to navigate these early friendships, children can:
- Develop a sense of belonging
- Develop emotional maturity
- Build their self-esteem
- Decrease their stress levels
- Learn how to be sensitive to the viewpoints of others
- Learn how to engage in conversations
- Develop their understanding of managing conflict
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms by having a friend to turn to for help
Child Psychologists have found that early childhood friendships contribute to a child’s quality of life and ability to adjust to changes within their environments.
How can we as adults help our children develop and establish these friendships?
- Modelling Friendship Skills – Ultimately, children learn from what they observe; they have done this from the day they were born. If you have known friends for a long time, point this out to your child, so they understand how vital long-standing friendships are.
- Encourage meaningful friendships with your child – As parents, we can notice how differently our children can act when in the presence of different friends. When we see the joy on our children’s faces when they are with a particular friend, we must continue facilitating this friendship. If your child has this friendship within preschool and they will be going on to different schools, exchange contact details with their parent and see if you can organise some playdates.
- Respect Individuality – it is essential to recognise that not all children are the same and to not judge your child by their siblings’ friendships or those of other children the same age. Some children may have an outgoing personality and love to be surrounded by many friends whilst others may prefer to have a couple of close friends or even just one. Some children may find it challenging to make friends, and it is essential that we support them in making friends but do not pressure them to do so. Children will grow socially as they grow physically, emotionally and cognitively.
- Listen – This is by far the most important thing we can ever do for our children. Navigating friendships for children can often be one of the most challenging things for them. We can support our children through conflicts and challenges by listening and offering our support and guidance.