As I watch my children start to find their feet at school one thing that I’m finding I’m paying quite a bit of attention to is the friendships they’re forming.
They both have little friendship groups which for the most part is brilliant, but I do worry a bit to be honest about how they’ll cope with the inevitable arguments and falling outs that will come at some point.
I want my children to learn how to be good friends, and in turn spend time with people who are good friends to them. It doesn’t stop in childhood though, there are things we can do throughout our lives to be better friends.
1. Remember it’s a 2-way street
A great friendship needs both friends to give and take equally. If one person is always the one giving, always the one reaching out and making the effort, then the balance is all wrong. To be a great friend you need to give as much as you take.
Be the one to suggest getting together one weekend, text them randomly with something that will make them smile.
The other side of this though is that you have to be able to take as much as you give too, so accept your friend’s offers of help when you need it, take their advice on board when they give it and welcome love and compliments that they give you.
2. Don’t keep score
Following on from the first point, while you try to keep a balance in the friendship you should also try not to keep score too much.
Don’t keep a running record of how many times you initiate getting together vs how many times your friend does. There might be a number of reasons why she’s not as organised or proactive as you in arranging getting together.
If they’re a good friend in other ways and support you and are there for you, then don’t keep score over the other things.
3. Reminisce over past memories, then make some new ones together
Let them know you’re thinking of them now and texting them private jokes, or quotes from TV programs you loved to watch together. Post old photos of the two of you together on Facebook and write a caption about the day it was taken.
The key though is to not let your friendship live completely in the past.
Make plans to do something new and fun together, to keep making new memories. Maybe start taking a class together, if there’s something you’ve both always wanted to learn to do. Or if you have the time and money available, think about booking a weekend break in a new city and go exploring together.
4. Cheer them on
Be there as much as you can to support your friend, to encourage them and let them know how much you believe in them and their dreams
The author of ‘The art of friendship’, Sally Horchow, has said “being generous in spirit is said to stimulate the same part of your brain as simple pleasure. So, put yourself aside and try simply cheering them on”.
If your friend is trying something new, or working towards a goal, it can sometimes be a bit unnerving and we might worry about things shifting in the friendship. But it’s really important to not let those feelings stop you from being supporting and encouraging.
5. Be you
Let your guard down and be as open as you can with your friends.
Let them really get to know the real you. Sally Horchow wrote, “It’s better to be open, realistic and expressive with your friends, in good times and bad. This will reinforce your bond”.
While it can be really scary to open up and let your friends get to know the real you, flaws and all, it’s the only way you can properly get close to people.
These are all things I’ll be talking to my children about as they get older and hopefully it’ll help them to be great friends and to form close relationships with people who’ll be amazing friends to them too.