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The Buddy System: The Five Friendships You Should Be Encouraging

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By mia bolaris-forget

Having a satisfying social circle is something, it seems, we are all hardwired to NEED. That’s right, according to experts, it not “just” a want, but rather, a need, and one that can help keep us happy and healthy emotionally and physically. And, that’s why building bonds and learning how to do it successfully should begin at “infancy”. In fact, when it comes to making friends there are five types your youngster should have, or should we say, needs.

1. The close by confidant: This kid is local and easily “accessible”, such as a neighbors child or the child or someone your already know and like and connect with and is the ideal buddy for your little one from infancy up until the age or about 5. Make sure to make nice with mom and time for her tool After all, this is the first lesson your child will get on extra-familial relationships and the first experience that will teach your child about forging friendships and about how much fun they can be. Arrange frequent playdates, always making sure they are age appropriate and making sure both moms are in agreement about establishing some simple rules, including no hitting and making sharing a must. Having a nearby buddy is also good because kids can get together without too much effort on your part and it’s pretty easy to work in playtime around your schedule. Just make sure not to take advantage of a good situation and have a plan for calling it a day.

2. Boy-friends and Girl-friends: Just as important as it is for kids to hand out with friends of their own gender, it’s equally as important that they have friends of the opposite sex, starting as early as infanthood and probably up until the age of 5 when they’ll officially start noticing the difference. Having friends of the opposite sex helps children identify with members of the opposite gender and helps them learn how to interact and deal with them. Just remember, its up to you NOT to make a big deal of it and to set the platonic example without enforcing stoic stereotypes. Remember, the younger the child, the less the actual distinction. And, regardless of how cute the twosome are and how well they get along, try to refrain from tagging them the next Romeo and Juliet, steering clear of romantic references or calling your child’s playmate his girlfriend or her boyfriend. It may just turn them off to being friends.

3. My buddy the jock: Kids, it’s a fact, don’t get enough exercise these days, so having a friend who is more active and adventurous is “essential”, especially from the age of 3 to when your child first starts full-time school. In fact, this friend is perfect for taking to the park, playground, or enrolling along side your child in a swimming glass etc. And, kids these days NEED someone who enjoys the great outdoors, adventure and sports to lure them off the couch, computer and video games. And, don’t be afraid to step in and play referee if need be, as well as emphasizing the importance of being a good “loser”, and a good sport.

4. More “mature” friends: Not only is it essential for kids to build bonds with others in their age group, but having an older friend or two can do a child good. In fact, if he or she has and older sibling, finding this friend should be pretty easy. Remember, kids can learn a lot from their older peers, especially in terms of behaviour and manners. Just make sure that there’s not too much of an age gap and that kids are pretty much on the same development level and can relate to some capacity or degree.

5. Friends of his or her own: These petite pals are ones your child makes on his or her own, and usually begins around the age of 4 and up. While it’s imperative to help him or her assert his or her independence, it is also important to get to know whom your child is hanging out with and what kind of influence they are having on your kid. Regardless of your feelings, it’s important to NOT (immediately) be discouraging) and to try to support your child in his or her decisions. Find out about the other child and his or her family by arranging a play date or inviting them over and keep eyes peeled for red flags such as kids behaving differently or talking about inappropriate topics or about violent video games. Wait and see what happens, unless you feel there is a serious and real danger. Kids need to figure things out on their own, and making and letting go of friends is just one of life’s lessons. Last, but not least, no matter what happens, don’t criticize your child’s judgment but instead point out lovingly what he or she should be looking for and how you can get involved in helping him or her make wise, safe and suitable decisions.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > The Buddy System: The Five Friendships You Should Be Encouraging

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