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Guest Post: Helping kids build the right kind of friendships

Published: August 11, 2016 | By | Reply Continue Reading

“It’s important to help your kids build the right kind of friendships with the right kinds of kids,” says psychologist Dr. Benna Strober.

Friendships are very important to the normal development of children. This is where they learn to make decisions, to lead or follow, to become considerate and loyal, and to develop the resilience necessary to recover from mistakes.

When discussing peer pressure with your kids, it is helpful to teach them how to avoid being in sticky situations as much as possible (because they definitely will get involved in some anyway.) As a parent, you may not realize how much influence you can have on your child’s choice of friends and ability to reduce potentially negative peer pressure.

So how is this done? 

De-emphasize popularity. Many parents unwittingly push kids to make friends. They get upset if their child is not invited to every birthday party. They might be devastated whenever their child is rejected by the “in” crowd. When you push for popularity your children get the message that something is wrong with them.

If you emphasize being part of a clique, your child may become a follower who goes along blindly with the crowd. Instead, encourage quality over quantity. The number of friends your children has is less important than having one or two good friends.

If your child is left out or picked on by peers, help them recognize it is not necessarily their fault. Instead, reassure them it is normal, though painful, to be “in” one week and “out” the next.

I am sure you all have memories from your own days in school when you felt out of the loop or remember someone who was your friend one day and not the next. It helps to relate these stories to your kids.

It is important to know that while it might be painful for you to you to see your child “snubbed” by peers, children are often more resilient than you give them credit for.

Kids are fickle and peer groups change on a regular basis. If your child does not give in to the pressure applied by a group of peers, this is something to praise them for and feel good about.

Benna Strober, Psy.D.

Benna Strober, Psy.D.

Dr. Benna Strober is a child/adolescent psychologist in private practice in Mount Kisco, N.Y. She assists individuals to work through their difficulties, find healthy coping strategies and make smart choices.

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships

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