Nurturing Early-Childhood Friendships
When I think about my growing up years, many memories come rushing back. Some of those memories are unpleasant exchanges with friends. As a child, I always had a tough time keeping friends. I suppose I got too attached and was slightly unlucky in the department. My friends and I always ended up hurting each other and I spent many precious hours of my early childhood life feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self-pity.
From those Early-childhood friendships, I took away some important lessons. I learned how to manage my emotions, how to come out strong from a failed relationship, how to cope with loss, and most importantly how to keep friends.
Friendship is often underrated, considering the huge role it plays in an individual’s well being. When a child connects with an individual outside of his family, it is a precious connection. That’s because the child is learning how to fend for himself, how to get by in life without being lonely. Early childhood friendship is something that is frequently overlooked. We don’t always realize how attached young children are to their friends. The huge positive developmental influence that friends have on a child’s mind plays a key role in shaping their personality.
Friendship cannot have a one-size-fits-all formula; each individual is wired differently and makes relations differently.
As educators and parents, we must make efforts to help nurture those friendships by helping our children stay connected with their friends.
Recently a friend complained about how her daughter is overly attached to her best friend and hasn’t been paying attention in school. The teacher has been complaining about the two of them always talking to each other and wanting to sit together. The teacher suggested changing the 6-year-olds class sections so they are more focused in class.
I had an entirely different take on the matter. I believe that children must be placed in classes where they have children with whom they have established friendships. This will not just help them maintain their special bond but also focus better.
Why is Friendship an Important Life Skill?
Social-Emotional well being plays a huge role in learning
I believe that children cannot learn if they are not comfortable in the classroom. The process of learning is further hampered if children feel unwanted, lonely and undervalued in a classroom. Having a friend around who values them helps turn things around completely.
Having strong relationships with their classmates is one of the many factors that help students feel happy in a classroom
Nurturing social-emotional development helps children become confident individuals who work well as team players and problem solvers.
Friendship is a life skill
As students begin navigating relationships and understanding the world outside of themselves, they learn important things about themselves. Friends help children engage in positive as well as negative experiences. Children learn to figure out what happens when they have a conflict with a friend. They understand their inner-selves better while maneuvering through rocky-friendships. They learn problem-solving, changing their own nature and attitude, if need be and if they feel it is worth the relationship in question. Basically, children learn how to deal with people.
It is human nature to get attracted to certain people and want their closeness and support. However, children must learn that the other person may not necessarily feel the same way. That’s when children learn to make decisions, cope with hurt/heartache, and move on. This is an absolutely essential skill to have in the growing up years so as to help one get by in life.
Friendship cannot have a one-size-fits-all formula; each individual is wired differently and makes relations differently. However, as teachers and educators, we can make things easy for our children by helping them cultivate deep, meaningful bonds with their friends. Instead of having an approach where we separate them from their friends step into their shoes and take a call. Remember it is these essential life-skills that set grounds for a stable emotional individual who is future-ready.