All of us want our children to have the right kind of friends—friends who bring out the best in them, treat them kindly, and lead them away from trouble. But how can we help our kids really understand the adage: Choose your friends wisely? I was thinking about that the other day as I was sewing on a button. That’s when I got the idea for the thread test.
You can use the thread test too to show your children how to choose friends wisely. All you need is one spool of thread. So grab your spool and teach your children the value of the thread test.
- Don’t let your children see the spool of thread. Cut off a piece of thread about a foot long.
- Stretch out the piece of thread and hold it up for your children to see. Ask them to tell you its color. (When I tried this with my daughter, I used a lavender colored thread. At first, she said pink, then white, then cream. It’s very hard to determine the exact color of a single piece of thread — and that’s the point.)
- Now, grab the spool of thread and show your children the actual color.
- Begin talking about how to choose your friends wisely, using the talking points below.
Give it time.
Determining if someone would be a good friend takes time, and first impressions can be misleading. Just like the thread test, someone might appear to be a certain way, but once we get a better look, they might turn out to be completely different.
Make your child aware of the red flags of friendship. Teach him to ask questions like these: Is my friend honest? Does she lie to his parents, cheat on tests, or say things that aren’t true about other people? Does she talk about other people behind their backs? If she does, she’ll probably treat me that way too. Is she mean? Even if she’s nice to me, is she unkind to other kids? There are ways you can help your child choose friends wisely, too.
How do they make you feel?
Ask your child how she feels when she’s with her friend. Does her friend build her up, “Emma, you are so good at keyboarding!”? Or, does she tear her down, “Oh, Emma, you’re so bossy!” We don’t want our kids to think that good friends never have a conflict or that anyone can be a perfect friend, but we want our children to understand that a good friend will encourage them and appreciate the things that make our child unique.
These questions can help your child discern if a hanging out with a particular friend is a wise choice or a poor choice.
How do you teach your children to choose friends wisely?