Can Preschoolers Establish GROWING Friendships?

I have been observing Uri on how he interacts with people around him; most especially children his age. Turning 3 in a few weeks is quite interesting to witness; what with all growth spurts in various aspects. There is something that would always surprise me especially his building vocabulary. Have you ever heard of ‘adult kid’? He made that name up for himself.

Anyway, there are various stages in a growing friendship between and amongst children, but I will talk about MOMENTARY PLAYMATES (approximate ages: 3-6 years), which is the bracket Uri is in. At this age, preschoolers view their friends as revolving and temporary. Their friendships are all about having fun together, and fun it is.

We have joined a pretty good number of playgroups with much enthusiasm and enjoyment, and in these playgroups, Uri’s friends are kids who are conveniently nearby, and who do the same things he likes to do. He likes the idea of having friends around him, and he would oftentimes ‘brave’ himself in introducing first, which I silently admire in him. (without over praising him. No ‘GOOD JOB’ here)

And so I observe that at this stage, the preschoolers definitely have preferences for some peers over others, and that is perfectly fine. They're not so good at being reliable friends yet. For instance, three-year-olds might say, "You're not my friend today!" if they just feel like doing something other than what their friend wants to do. But don’t be alarmed that your tiny human is developing a bad behavior; NO! he is simply exhibiting new found emotions, which is a very good sign.)

Despite the day-to-day or moment-to-moment variations in how friendly they act, preschoolers do show some continuity in their friendships. One study found that two-thirds of preschoolers who claimed each other as friends were still friends four to six months later, isn’t that wonderful? I should know! Uri has established long-term friendships since he was 7 months old, and up to this day, these friends (established since infanthood) have remained friends.

Now, nothing happens just as it happens. As parents, we can be our children’s partners in helping them make friends. Here are a few tips:

1. Be an “emotion coach”

2. Practice authoritative parenting

3. Teach kids how to converse in a polite way

4. Foster empathy and sympathetic concern for others

5. Help kids ‘read’ facial expressions

6. Mentor kids’ social life

7. When possible, let kids try to work things out on their own

8. Watch out for bullying

9. Be aware of cultural differences

Let us help our children grow friendships and they would always have best friends by their side.

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