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Kids and Friendship: One Good Friend

We all want our children to feel accepted and loved in their peer groups, but some children have a harder time finding their place in the social jungle of childhood and struggle with feelings of loneliness and rejection at some point. Instead of trying to cultivate a wide variety of relationships or have a child who is “popular” across the board, some moms suggest helping the child connect to just one good friend. Here are the benefits of one good friend:

Group Shyness: A single, best friend can be a good fit for a child who doesn’t handle the dynamics of a group very well. As children become more group and clique oriented in the upper grammar school and middle school years, a child who isn’t skilled at establishing and maintaining her place in the group can feel pushed aside. While it’s not healthy for a child to avoid group social interaction altogether, these skills should be learned eventually as they are valuable in later life.  Some children find relief from the pressure and companionship in the company of one friend.

Parent’s Perspective: It’s much easier to keep an eye out for problems and to truly know the other family your child is spending time with when he doesn’t sleepover at a different house every weekend. Establishing a good relationship, and maybe even a friendship, with the parents of your child’s best friend can provide important feedback and mutual help in parenting.

Less Complicated: A single friendship is less complicated than one attached to a group, and can be an important part of emotional and social development for shy or timid children. There are some downsides to placing the majority of your social focus on one other child, however. If that child moves away or the relationship suffers for other reasons, the result can be traumatic for your child, leaving him feeling acutely alone.

For this reason, don’t cut all ties with other casual friends your child may have. While they may not be the most compatible or beneficial to your child at the moment, it’s good to have a little social “insurance” for your child when inevitable changes occur. After all, children change and the girl whom your daughter doesn’t always get along with in middle school may be her good friend in high school when they’re both more mature.

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© 2014 Family First. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.