What Makes a Good Friend

What makes a good friend?

 

One of the beautiful things about being a teacher and getting the chance to work with young children is that you get the opportunity to see them learn how to socialise and start to develop what are probably the first friendships they’ll ever have.

It’s fascinating to watch and it’s a time when kids get to realise that it’s safe outside their shell and not every other person is a potential threat. Through other people, they can start to learn about the world and discover who they are.

It will expose them to different cultures, different personalities and help them to better understand those when they come across them in the future. While all of this stuff sounds wonderful, it’s not always smooth sailing.

The very young are entirely dependent on the adults that take care of them, and as such, they’ve spent basically their entire life being the centre of their parents’ attention. This changes once they get to school and they are no longer the sole focus.

It can get a little bit contentious and sometimes the way in which children react to each other isn’t entirely wholesome. Arguments can start, exclusion can be prominent and certain toxic traits like manipulation and deceit can grow if they aren’t controlled.

It’s important for you as a teacher to know what the traits of a truly good friend are so you can be on the lookout for kids who aren’t treating their peers the way they should be. And so you can teach them about the significance of strong friendships.

So what makes a good friend? These four traits are vitally important:

 

Sharing

I’m sure you’ve heard the old cliche that ‘sharing is caring’ and you’re probably rolling your eyes right now after reading it here, but it’s true, and it’s an important one to know. It shows the ability to empathise.

A child will share their toys if they can understand that others will get the same enjoyment that they’re getting and want their friends to feel that same happiness. This is the basis for a solid caring friendship—one where there will be give and take—and both parties will look out for each other and keep each other’s best interests at heart. It also helps to build up a lack of greed and selfishness so that kids can be okay with waiting for their turn and not always having the things they want.

So be on the lookout for those kids that are trying to hog all of the toys and activities that are available to them and try to explain to them why that’s not okay. Be strict if you have to but always make sure you’re clear about why it’s important to share.

Listening

This is something that you see well before children are old enough to go to school. Once they learn how to use their voice, they never want to stop using it. They can communicate, make themselves heard and get attention for themselves.

It can be tough to teach them that just because they can speak, doesn’t necessarily mean that they always should. Conversation is a two-way street. The more you listen, the more you learn and understand.

Friendships, where conversations are just two people who aren’t actually listening to one another and are just waiting for their next opportunity to speak, are not satisfying friendships, nor are they healthy or beneficial.

The value of learning should be impressed upon children. You can find ways to show them that listening is actually exciting and then when another child tries to tell them something they’ll hang on every word.

Read to them. Read stories and poetry and teach them from an early age how to extract the value from these things so that they will enjoy the act of listening to them.

Honesty

Once a child learns how to lie, it marks a change in their behaviour from which there's no going back! As soon as they realize that not everyone knows the things that they know and they can alter the truth to suit their own needs, they will start doing it.

It won’t feel like a negative thing for them. It won’t be clear that being dishonest could potentially be harmful to the people they’re lying to. They’ll lie in the interest of self-preservation, not to deliberately hurt another person.

But if they start doing this at an early age and then no one tells them that it’s wrong, they will keep doing it and it will be harder for them to accept that they shouldn’t. It’s a self-destructive thing and that needs to be apparent.

You can show kids the benefits of honesty and the consequences of lying when they’re very young so that they will then do their best to avoid it. And the best place to start is with their peers. If you’re not honest with your friends, you won’t be honest with anyone.


Learning how to be a good friend can effectively set up all of the relationships in your life to be positive ones. A child who learns to understand the joy of strong human connections when they are young will value those forever.