Five Rules of Being a Good Friend: Tips for Kids
1) The Importance of Empathy. Empathy is the most valuable asset of a positive relationship. It is the joy in knowing that someone cares about you. It is being able to see things from another person’s viewpoint, even if you have never experienced it yourself. Empathy does not come naturally for some people, while it does for others. Teach kids empathy by modeling the behavior yourself when you talk to your child.
2) Being There for Friends. Another important lesson in the art of making friendships and developing positive relationships is being there for a friend. When a friend calls you needing something, try to be the one who is there for them. People remember this in the long run and appreciate people who have tried to help them.
3) Laugh and Have Fun. Part of friendship is having fun with your friends. A good sense of humor and being able to share experiences is part of the intimacy of friendship and good relationships. Teach kids to share what they have with others and to have fun with friends by being positive and jovial with them. If they have a friend who is constantly pulling them down, pressuring them or making them feel bad—they may not be much of a friend at all. Also make sure your child is not the one who may be treating others poorly.
4) Be Loyal. When it comes to building positive long-lasting relationships, loyalty is king. Teach kids to be loyal to their friends and be there when someone needs them. This also involves keeping secrets to themselves which friends have told them in confidence, and having a sense of dedication to the relationship. These are important skills that will last not only into their adult friendships, but also into even deeper relationships, such as marriage and family later on.
Note that children should learn to differentiate between secrets that can build trust and loyalty between friends and secrets that can be destructive. If a friend tells you something you believe could be harmful for them – you are being a good friend by letting someone know so they can be removed or saved from a harmful situation. A true friend acts in the best interest of the other, even if their friend cannot see that at the time.
5) Listen. Everyone wants to be listened to. Active listening is different than passive listening. Passive listening involved only hearing what is said, where active listening means exhibiting listening behaviors, such as leaning toward the person when they are talking, replying with a statement, and other attributes. The better your child learns to listen to others, the more positive their relationships of any kind will be.
There is no easy formula for making friends, avoiding conflict, or creating lasting relationships. But following these guidelines may prove to be a jumping off point for kids who are learning their way in the world and wish to make and keep lasting friendships.