A true friendship can greatly enrich your life. In fact, some of us hold our dear friends in higher regards than our siblings and sometimes even our parents. Friends are there for you when you need them and you reciprocate in kind. There are many lessons to be learned from friendship and these can be particularly valuable for children as they emotionally mature and learn more about how life works.
While children discover certain basics of behaviour at home with their parents and brothers and sisters, it is usually the friends they make outside the home that help to teach them about functioning in an group. While exposure to other children in school can have an effect, a child’s closer dealings with friends goes along the way in helping to define their own identity.
The time spent with friends can be educational, can further emotional development, and also improves the child’s physical health, thanks to the games and other forms of physical activities that friends engage in.
As with most everything in life, friendships are a learned skill. Children come to realize that if they treat their friends with respect, it will be shown to them in return. Interactions with a trusted person like a friend can teach children the skills they need to interact well with both people their age and adult authority figures.
Allowing children to find and foster friendships on their own is important because it teaches the child to analyze people and select ones who share common interests with them and, thus, are the most compatible.
Spending time with other children is also a great way to introduce them to new things. For example, if a parent tries to force a child to take up a sport, they will likely resist. However, if they discover the joys of that activity on their own by doing it with friends, they are more likely to engage in it on a regular basis.