Helping Kids Gain Friendship Skills

friendship-skillsChildren who are able to form friendships when they start school are happier at school and also learn better.

More significantly, positive friendships have long-term implications for social and indirectly academic success.

Friendship skills are generally developmental, but they don’t develop in isolation. Kids acquire friendship skills when they play with their siblings and interact with children and adults outside their family.

Parents can help kids develop important social competencies by teaching them sociable behaviours at home, being good role models and providing opportunities for kids to play with each other in a variety of situations.

Here are 3 important social skills to help children to develop:

1. Ask for what you want

Help children ask for what they want. It means they don’t throw tantrums, whinge, and sulk or expect parents to guess what’s on their minds. While we need to be patient with toddlers, we need also to give older children the chance and opportunity to ask for what they want. Sometimes we need to ignore shrugs and grunts and expect them to articulate their wishes. This is the basis of civil behaviour, as well as a basic human skill.

2. Sharing

Sharing is a basic social skill. Developmentally, very young children like to keep their possessions themselves. As they get older and move into Pre School and beyond the notion of sharing becomes a pre-requisite for playing with and forming relationships with others. Other children like to play and be with those who share their time, possessions and space with them. Sharing is the start of empathy as it shows sensitivity to other people’s feelings.

3. Holding a conversation

Holding conversations with others is a lifetime friendship skill. Conversations require self-disclosure, which can be challenging for some children. Good conversationalists give of themselves, but also take an interest in the person they are talking to. Many children forget that good conversations are two-way events, and tend to focus solely on themselves.

Children within conversations need to learn to ask good or interesting questions; to take turns when speaking and to show you are listening by making eye contact and not interrupting.

As parents we often focus on the development of children’s academic skills and quite easily neglect the development of important social skills, which contribute so much to children’s happiness and wellbeing.


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Michael Grose

Michael Grose is the current Channel 9 Today Show parenting commentator, reaching parents Australia-wide on a regular basis.He is also the author of 8 parenting books, including his latest release Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It.

A popular presenter, Michael Grose speaks to parents, teachers and principals on a regular basis.Michael comes from an education background, and has conducted post-graduate research into what makes healthy families tick.He's given over 1500 parenting presentations, including the first parenting seminar in Parliament House, Canberra.Michael is married with three adult children who have all successfully flown the parent nest.

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