May 2009-Parent Tip on Friendship
This month's topic is on friendship and helping your child navigate through the social web. In an article entitled "Friends and Friendships" by Dr. Gurian and Robin Goodman, they write about the different developmental stages that children go through in regards to their views on friendships. (To read this article, go to www.aboutourkids.org and enter "Friends and Friendships" in the search space.
For preschoolers, they are most likely to view friend as a here and now person. For example, my friend is playing a game with me, she/he is my friend. For 6 year old, it is about focusing on what they need and don't realize friendship takes time to cultivate and is a process. It is a more short-term view of friendship. By 7-9, the article states "Childen realize that friendships are personal and they may like or dislike a person because of certain traits." By 10, they begin to see friendship as an onlgoing collaboration, understanding one another, take note and interest in other's activies but exclusion begin to crop up. This is a time friends are pulling away from parents and becoming closer with their peers. By 12, they begin to see the complexities of friendship and the fact that they may have a dfferent opinions on things they can still be friends.
For parents, it is difficult to keep their own issues about popularity and social groups in check because the problems their children may be going through, may bring up past hurts and betrayals for them. The other issue is the amount of friends their children have is sometimes perplexing because they may have a different personalilty than their child. For example, if you as a mom are extraverted and outgoing and your daughter/son is an introvert, it may be difficult for you to understand why he/she has only a couple good friends versus your style of having many friends. As parents, it is important to be respectful of our children's temperments and social preferences.
Some great resources on friendship are located in the bibliography sections on the front of my web page. Please feel free to also call me at 206-329-3260 X 220 if you would like to discuss further issues related to social skills or friendship stages.