Looking back at your childhood, it’s fun to remember your first friends. Your parents probably remind you all the time about the childhood games you played with your little buddies. Now, you get to watch your own little one make their own special connections! Navigating laughs, chats, and even arguments are all important steps. Their first friends teach them how to socialise, support someone else, and have plenty of fun. These building blocks are key for all of the friendships they’ll make in the future.
What is typical for making friends at this age?
Around three years old, your child is entering kindy and meeting tons of new people. After they’ve grown out of their parallel playing phase, they’re going to begin to play with others. They will typically stick to their own gender for the first few years as it might be more comfortable for them.
On the playground, you might notice them being drawn towards kids with similar interests. If your little one is beyond active and loves anything sport-related, they will probably find others who want to run around as well. On the flip side, if they prefer reading or playing make-believe, they will also find those companions.
After plenty of time with the same few kids, they might be able to name them and look for their friends when they get to preschool. They might even request playdates with them. Don’t be alarmed if not though, some kids aren’t as energetic around others and instead take their time to find the right companions. The ways your little one socialises will be unique to their personality.
How to help them make friends
Teaching them how to be a good friend is an important stepping stone in their development. Socialising isn’t always straightforward at first, so being a helping hand is important.
They might not feel confident at first with others, so staying by their side for the beginning phases will be a good support. Eventually, as they become more self-assured, you can slowly move away.
Show them the ropes
Sharing and being kind while playing are things they have to learn through play. Be there for their first few interactions to demonstrate the right ways to interact. Explain to your child how sharing works, that it makes others happy and it’s more fun that way.
Explain what friendship is
Talking about it in front of them, comparing your own experiences, and showing them your friends can solidify the importance of friendship. Kids are like sponges, they take in everything you say and show them, so making companionship a present thing in your life and theirs is key.
Be aware of their personality
Whether they are extroverts or introverts, there are lessons you can teach. If you notice that they demand the centre of attention on the playground, suggest that they let others pick the games or lead the day for a change. Making them aware of other’s wants and needs is beneficial. On the other end, find ways to push your introvert out of their shell in slow ways. Show them it’s okay to speak up a bit and suggest games they might like to others.
The more opportunities they have to develop their little personalities is great. This way you can get some time to see how they interact and allow them the space to navigate their new relationships.
Making friends is a very exciting time for little ones. Find the ways your child thrives and continue to support them, and soon enough they’ll be begging you for sleepovers!