Friendships are everything to a kid. They’re more important than family, to be honest. The company a kid keeps will determine nearly everything: how they see themselves, their priorities and values, and their choices. Parents and educators instinctively know that kids who fall into the ‘wrong crowd’ will face immense challenges as they grow up.
When they reach adolescence, ensuring a kid will have good friendships becomes much more challenging than when they were in preschool or elementary school. We can’t decline a birthday party invitation or arrange playdates the way we could when they were little. Ultimately, it’s up to them who they associate with and spend time with.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have influence.
In fact, we have a lot of influence; it’s just not as direct as it used to be. Recognizing the vital importance of friendships, here are the most important levers adults have to influence kids towards positive peer influences:
Your kid will likely cycle through a series of friendships and groups of friends. Be patient- before you know it, they’ll stumble on a good one. In the meantime, follow the steps above and ensure it’s at the top of your mind. Continue to reinforce how important good friends are and model healthy friendships.
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For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.
They're uncommon sense ideas, really.
Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).