Sowing the seeds of friendship

Help children learn to control their impulses.

Children need to learn to control their impulses and to put the wants and needs of others ahead of themselves. Playing games that reward self-control (e.g., freeze tag) and taking turns (e.g., board games) help to encourage this skill.

Help children understand that their actions affect others.

Young children are naturally selfcentred. They start to be able to put themselves in others shoes by age four. Parents can encourage this skill from an early age. For example: Nicole is watching TV with her father. He asks questions like “How would you feel if that happened to you? Why does the little girl feel sad?”

Don’t solve children’s conflicts with others. Mediate them.

When conflicts happen, it’s a good idea to resist the urge to solve them. Instead, parents can ask each of the children to state their feelings and explain what they want. Encourage them to negotiate a solution by coming up with ways to solve the problem so that everyone can live with it.

* not child’s real name

This article is a publication from the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.

The Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development identifies and summarizes the best scientific work on the social and emotional development of young children. It disseminates this knowledge to a variety of audiences in formats and languages adapted to their needs.

For more information on the importance of friendship, consult our experts articles in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, available free of charge at:

Ref.: Tremblay RE, Barr RG, Peters RDeV, Boivin M, eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development – Peer Relations. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. Available on the site.

Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD)

The mandate of the CEECD is to foster the dissemination of scientific knowledge on the development of young children with an emphasis, but not exclusively, on the social and emotional development and on the services and policies that influence this development.

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