“Show me your friends, and I will show you who you are.” – Greek Proverb.
As kids develop, they begin to value and spend more time with their friends than with their parents or other family members. These relations can provoke either positive or negative social skills that persist throughout the children’s lives. Positive peer relationships contribute to positive social-emotional development, such as cooperation, problem-solving strategy, and empathy. These skills also help children to have a sense of cultural and mutual respect with one another. Positive peer relationships also allow children to feel loved, respected, free and safe when in a diverse environment. In contrast, negative peer relationships can lead to negative social-emotional development, such as exclusion, deviant peer behaviors, and bullying.
How do you encourage your school-aged children to formulate and maintain positive peer relationships?
Teach Them the Value of Trust
Honesty in a relationship paves the way for trust, which is needed to sustain or thrive in a relationship. Teach your children to be always honest and trustworthy to their peers to develop confidence amongst each other. It would help if you also encouraged them to keep promises and maintain commitments, not unless they compromise their values. Always remember that children learn more by watching than hearing. This means you should build a strong foundation of trust they can emulate and rely upon. Trust-building can begin from an early age where you faithful meet their needs, keep their secrets, and respect their privacy.
REMEMBER: “Actions speak louder than words.” Therefore, “Practice what you preach”!
Teach them Good Manners
“You attract what you are, not what you want!” Teach them good manners if you want your child to relate with good-mannered kids. Teaching your children good manners will also help them make better life choices and avoid defiance groups. They will also be more empathetic and friendly to their peers, translating to positive peer relations. On the other hand, positive reinforcements play a significant role in improving your child’s behavior. Rather than punish them for negative behaviors, it would help if you worked with them to find the best solutions that can help them make better choices in the future. Positive reinforcements and conscious discipline help children learn better social skills that positively affect their relationships.
“Sharing is Caring.” This common phrase means that when you give something to another person, you care about them. Sharing contributes highly to positive relations and cooperation that develops into friendship. It would be best to teach your children how to share their belongings and manage their emotions when their peers refuse to share their things. You encourage sharing by openly praising the behavior of sharing, sharing things with them and their friends, and providing them the opportunity to share with others.
Model and Practice Effective Communication Skills
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. Instead, we listen to reply,” says Stephen Covey. One of the greatest killers of relationships is miscommunication. Grade school children are just starting to learn how to relate with their friends and classmates. They may not have good communication skills at their age unless you teach them. Please help your child make conversations and express their feelings and thoughts.Further, teach them to listen and understand others, especially their peers. Provide them opportunities to practice communication skills through games, role play, and practice. Also, teach them to say thank you, excuse me, and apologize to others.
Teach them Problem and Conflict Resolution Skills
Most children with behavioral issues have a problem with executive functioning skills and relationship-building. Such children should be taught how to solve problems and conflicts without getting aggressive. Therefore, it is vital for parents and teachers to patiently assist and coach children on a proper problem-solving process to limit disputes and negative social skills. You achieve this goal by training them to identify a problem and develop the best solution. For the best solution to a problem, highlight the pros and cons of each before picking the solution with the most negligible disadvantages.
Studies indicate that positive social skills can lead to better friendships, positive peer relationships, and acceptance. Unfortunately, some children develop these social skills naturally, while others don’t. Children who require support in forming positive peer relationships are children with autism, emotionally disturbed, retardation, conduct problems, and autism. At Kids on Yard, we can help your child develop excellent social skills and create positive peer relationships. Our SEL programs teach children self-worth, empathy, purposeful desires, and resilience, improving their ability to develop positive relationships.