Developing Healthy Friendships
by Virginia Reece, MS
"Every time I see him on the playground, he's playing by himself. He seems happy, but I'm worried that he doesn't have any friends. When I ask him why he doesn't play with the other children, he says he would rather play by himself." –Tyden's father
"My daughter is very rude and bossy to her friends. Several mothers have called to tell me that my daughter was verbally abusive to their child. Her preschool teacher has also told me that her bossiness is a problem in the classroom. I have talked to her many times about her rude behavior, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. I am afraid that if this continues, she won't have any friends." –Janet's mother
"We recently moved to a new neighborhood and my daughter is having trouble fitting in. In fact, the children tease her constantly. Lately, she won't even go outside in her own yard when the neighborhood children are out playing. It breaks my heart because she had so many great friends in our previous neighborhood." –Lisa's mother
Ways to Encourage Friendship
Any parent who has experienced the joy of a true friend wants their child to have similar experiences of their own. Likewise, parents who have experienced the loneliness and isolation associated with the lack of friendship also want to protect their child from such feelings. It is important that children have healthy friendships when they are young because this sets the groundwork for building positive relationships later in life. But how do parents guide their child toward healthy friendships while allowing them the freedom to learn important lessons from both the "good" friends as well as the "bad" ones? Here are a few tips:
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Institutes of Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Canada
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