The Rewards of Friendship in Third Grade
What have you done for me lately? Believe it or not, this summarizes a typical third grader’s perspective of friendship.
What You Need to Know
Your child’s friendships are evolving in third grade. While younger children have fleeting friendships, your child is now more likely to have longer friendships and probably a best friend. But she still has a way to go. Researchers have found that 7- and 8-year-olds often go through what they call a “reward-cost” stage of friendship. In other words, they see friendship as beneficial to them but not necessarily how they can make the relationship better for their friends.
These stages are typical of children at this age. Which stage best describes your child? By the time children reach fourth grade, they are much more likely to begin seeing friendship as reciprocal.
- Stage 1: momentary physical interaction
- Stage 2: one-way assistance
- Stage 3: fair-weather cooperation
- Stage 4: intimate and mutual sharing
- Stage 5: autonomous interdependence
How You Can Help
- Provide your child with ample opportunities to meet other children and make friends. Children who have friends are more confident and more socially adept than those who don’t. Invite kids into your home, accompany your child on social outings, get together with other families who have children your child’s age. Allow your child to become involved in groups such as scouts or sports so she gets to meet lots of potential friends.
- Be tolerant, teach empathy. If your child seems a bit callous toward a friend, it may simply be a symptom of her social development stage. Seeing friendships in somewhat selfish terms is normal for many third graders. Of course, you don’t want her to be mean, and you should help her to try and empathize how her friend might feel.
For more information about your child’s peer relations, please see the full article:
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