Your child’s friendships change as they get older. In the younger years, friendships are experienced as playful companionship, shared experiences, and common interests, but by fourth or fifth grade, friendships assume an emotional intensity that is different even from the friendships of adults.
Adults are usually more restrained, more relaxed, in their friendships, and better able to deal with the disappointments that a close friendship may bring. But for adolescents, friendships are usually charged with emotions which can turn hot or cold depending on the mood of the child. Even minor disagreements between friends can cause severe hurt feelings in children at this age. A parent’s comforting words of reassurance and understanding are needed at this time to help heal these emotional wounds.
Friendships are the way your child bridges the gap between home life and the realities of the outside world. Here are some guidelines:
- Respect your child as a unique individual.
- Your child’s friends are persons too and are to be respected.
- Get to know your child’s friends and make them feel welcome in your home.
- Be prepared to discuss with your child why some friendships are undesirable such as those that lead to unacceptable behavior.
- Be prepared to discuss and defend your own values and beliefs; a calm, reasonable approach is needed.
- Help your child deal with hurt feelings that result from broken friendships through and by developing new interests and friendships.
Even though your advice may appear at times to fall on deaf ears, don’t give up. It is often in later years that a parent’s advice and words of encouragement and wisdom are remembered and followed.
As always, you and your wonderful children are in my daily thoughts and prayers.
Terri Nicholson LCPC
School Counseling Consultant