Having friends is a vital part in child’s healthy development. It helps them to develop emotionally and morally and teaches them how communicate, cooperate, and solve problems. Children learn how to control their emotions and respond to the emotions of others as well as learning to understand other people's points of view.
Developing the foundation skills allowing children to successfully build friendships should start from an early age. When we are born, we have a natural impulse to communicate and even before we can communicate verbally, we develop bonds with our parents or caregivers by smiling, cooing, and crying. As babies, we quickly learn to interpret facial expressions, gestures, and overtures. From developing secure attachments at an early age, we learn that people are social beings who communicate with one another and they learn that social interactions can be enjoyable and rewarding.
By the age of two years, as children’s interest in others increases they begin to play alongside their peers, and they may start to begin to show preferences for specific children and may refer to them as their friends. At Bright Horizons nurseries, the childcare professionals have a crucial role as they take the initiative to introduce children to various opportunities for playing alongside or with others. The more children play together, the more compatible their play becomes. Being able to take turns with others is a key for children’s social development and this is something that the childcare practitioners at Bright Horizons encourage through games and daily routines.
By preschool, children have become more skilled in their social interactions. At this stage they will often form friendships with other children with whom they have a shared interest and they look forward to playing with other children.
As the International Friendship Day celebrations takes place this weekend, take a moment and speak to your child about why having friends in our lives is important and maybe help them to reach out to their friend just to simply say "thank you for being in my life."