As adults, we often remember the very first friends we made when we were very small. We hope to witness our own children experience these connections. The importance of friendships for preschoolers endures through all the phases of growing up. Read more about this importance here.
Early Friendships Teach Social Skills
“Playing well with others” has become something of a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Children who make friends in preschool learn social skills like communication, sharing, and managing conflict.
They practice good manners, like waiting their turn, and preschool friendships help develop a sense of empathy and an appreciation of different perspectives. Kids learn that other children don’t necessarily like the same things, and that’s ok—they can find ways to play together anyway.
Preschool Friends Provide a Support System
Three- and four-year-old kids don’t understand the idea of a “support system.” But a sense of security and belonging is especially important to them. When they venture beyond the family unit into daycare or preschool, they need a new source for the sense of security they get at home. Developing friendships can provide that feeling of belonging and safety that all kids crave.
Friendships Build Confidence
Friendships can calm an anxious child or draw out a shy kid, helping them participate in group activities during preschool. Kids with friends feel liked and secure, giving them the confidence to try new activities and engage in creative activities without fear of what others will think.
Helping Your Child Make Friends
Some kids are naturally gregarious and make friends easily. Others need a little coaching. Kids with differences, like those on the autism spectrum, need extra help making friends. Model good friendship behavior for your child, and be available during play dates to coach them through rough patches, such as when they have trouble sharing, or another child says something that upsets them.
In the long run, friendships for preschoolers result in kids with better self-esteem, who are well-prepared for learning and leading in school and life.