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Teaching children about friendship

Teaching children about friendship can help them to start understanding relationships.

Socialization begins in early childhood when babies cry and smile at their parents and carers. Friendship naturally evolves from these early expressions. It evolves so naturally that adults don’t always take time to explain the concept to children until they have their first fight or friend breakup.

Adults can start talking about friendship with children as early as 9 months, and realistically, children will begin to better understand what a friend is as they start having more peer-to-peer interaction around 2 or 3 years old.

Using age-appropriate language when speaking about friendship is essential. A toddler doesn’t have the vocabulary or understanding of emotions that an older child has. Here are some bullet point tips to support conversations with children about friendship:

  • Use sharing to help explain friendship
  • Consider when to guide and when to step in
  • Teach children how to be a good friend
  • Use books and online resources to explain further how friendships can be made