By: Contributing Writer
How to properly communicate to kids about many life realities, is one of the hardest things for many parents. We tell kids “Don’t talk to strangers” and many of them seem to have gotten the message. Whenever they are approached by a stranger they tend to retreat or echo their parents’ instructions. But what about people they do not consider strangers, people who are familiar to them at home or school? Many kids seem to think that once a person smiles at them, it’s nice to them, or probably laughs at their jokes, then that person is their friend.
Friendship is a deep concept and many kids do not understand what it means. Parents continue to seek ways to let children learn the skill of identifying real friends and choosing who they trust. How can we make children decipher who their true friends are?
Teach them to trust their instincts
We should teach children to trust their instincts. Most times when something seems off about a person, it probably is. Let them know that it doesn’t matter if some people laugh or play with them, they might not be their friends.
Teach them to be assertive.
Also, teach your kids to be assertive and have a mind of their own. So many kids struggle to fit into circles where they are pretended to be liked because they want a sense of belonging. Building confidence in your child is a good way to avoid this. Encourage your kids, tell them how smart they are and that anyone would be lucky to be friends with them. This will build their self-confidence and eliminate the need to fit in.
Tell them what you think about their friends
Do not keep quiet when you do not like the company that your child keeps. If you believe that a child or neighbour doesn’t have good intentions towards your kid, voice out to your child. Point out the red flags that their young minds are probably too naive to see. Kids might kick back sometimes or not see reason, but continuous reminders from you will convince them. Unconsciously they would start to look for the signs and traits you have previously warned them about.
Be kind to them
Showing your kids love will affect how they take advice from you. They would understand that you always talk from a place of care and concern and are more likely to listen to you. They would trust your judgement about their friends.
Lead by example
Keeping good and solid friendships as a parent affects your child’s expectations from friends. This way kids can experience firsthand what true friendship feels like, and they know that it entails more than acting nice. Your child would be able to differentiate good friends from toxic ones.
In a world where people’s intentions are rarely pure, parents must look out for their kids. Discussing their choice of friends with them might be a delicate topic but is very necessary. Children need to learn that not everyone who smiles at them is their friend.
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