What You’ll Need to Know (Making and Keeping Friends) (page 2)
How does a child make and keep a friend? For very young children, it seems enough to be in the presence of one or two others. For them, a friend is defined as someone the child sees regularly in the neighborhood or the childcare center that will help build with blocks or play house.
As children grow and develop, however, it is extremely important for them to learn how to interact successfully with peers. Children who have friends
- seem to adjust more easily to school
- have fewer mental health problems
- have fewer adjustment difficulties in later years
The prevalence of violent solutions to conflicts, even between young children, suggests the need to concentrate on experiences that build a positive sense of self and teach social skills. It also appears that children who employ immature communication skills fail to form friendships with ease. So it is important that children learn the “right words” to use with others.
Popular children interact with others in appropriate ways, such as calling them by name and suggesting joint activities that would be of interest to all parties. They also appear to possess a sense of how to approach a group that is already playing by making a smooth and nondisruptive entry. While children mature at different rates in their ability to form and maintain friendships, teachers need to guide them in developing the skills that provide the basis for satisfying relationships. It is important that the teacher be sensitive and responsive to the need of neglected, developmentally delayed, aggressive, and culturally different children to find a place in the classroom community and to win the acceptance of peers.
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