Both adults and children choose who we want to make friends with. We look for others that are similar to us – maybe they act the same, look similar and share quite a few of our values and beliefs. We look for people who we have things in common with and have the same sense of humour as us.
But they don’t all have to be the same or carbon copies of us. Although the majority of our friends are similar to us, we can also appreciate that people are different and there is value in that. We love our friends for themselves and for the friendship they offer. Adults tend to appreciate our friends more – particularly when they’ve supported us through tough times, and vice versa.
How Children Choose Friendships
Children don’t have the same appreciation for their friendships as adults. They also tend to choose their friends in a different way for for different reasons.
They may choose friends based only on their values and not look at the whole person and the great qualities they have. A child may only look for friends that appear to be polite, kind and honest. If they don’t see another child as embodying those values, they will not want to be friends with them. They feel this child doesn’t meet their standards, will keep their distance and won’t bother interacting with them or allowing them into their friendship group.
For example, they may know some children that tell lies or use rude words. They may be good fun and potentially be good friends, but because this trait does not fit into to values, they will not talk to the child and will discount them as a potential friend.
Finding the Positives in Others
We need to teach our children that there are good things about everyone. Telling lies may not seem like an attractive trait but sometimes there are reasons why children lie. Maybe they don’t have much confidence and think it will impress people, so do it to get themselves noticed. They might use rude words because they are just repeating what they have heard at home. They may not even knowing what they mean.
Certain character traits seem negative, but does not mean that these children are horrible people. Like us all, they may lack confidence or have not been taught the niceties of social interaction. They may be loud but scratch beneath the service and you’ll find they are loyal, protective and funny. All great qualities in a friendship.
Children need to learn to give others a chance. Encourage them to talk to all kinds of children and to get to know them first before discounting them as a friend.