by Karen Alison, family educator, Family Place

Three little kids riding their bikes

“A day spent with a friend, is a day well spent.” No matter the age, gender, race, religion or distance a good friend is something everyone needs. The best part of friendships is the memories you make with a special person. In our adult lives, if one is fortunate, this person is a part of your childhood memories, school memories, early adult-child bearing memories, and even into the life of having grandchildren.

Social media has become the invisible string that allows adults this wonderful luxury to “keep in touch” with those that are a distance away. But this same string has not been as kind to today’s youth. What can we do to help our children understand the importance of a great friendship? How do we teach them to make and keep good friends?

“How To Be A Friend, A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them” gives an informative and useful guide to parents and teachers to help our children master the art of making friends.

Who can be your friend? 
Anyone who is nice to you (maybe someone in your neighborhood or class)  has similar likes and dislikes, and likes to play can become a friend. It might be difficult at first to introduce yourself if you are shy, but asking someone to play a game or asking their name is always a good icebreaker.

Ways to be a friend:
When playing with friends, you should always play fair, be honest, be a good listener, take turns and share. These may seem like hard things to do, but if you can be the leader then your friends will have more fun and want to play with you often. Standing up for friends, giving nice compliments or trying to cheer up someone are great ways to be a friend. It’s always important to keep your word; this will show your friend they can trust you.

Ways not to be a friend:
Just like there are ways to be a friend, there are ways not to be a friend. Friends will sometimes disagree about things – and that’s OK. Even brothers and sisters and other family members can bother each other sometimes. You can upset your friends if you…

  • Don’t let them play a game you are playing.
  • Cheat and don’t follow the rules.
  • Don’t share.
  • Tease or make fun of them.
  • Don’t let them play with anyone else.
  • Act like a poor sport or show off when you win or quit.
  • Call them names and make fun of them.

Would you want to be friends with someone that behaved that way? Probably not.

Bosses and bullies:
Do you like someone telling you what to do or making all the rules? Do you like someone to act like a bully? No way. If someone bullies you, or always wants you to do things their way, try not to get upset. Tell them that you don’t like the way they are treating you and to leave you alone. Look for other, friendly kids. If that doesn’t work, ask an adult for help.

Arguments and making up with a friend:
Arguments can make friends feel angry. Sometimes arguments just get worse and worse and you might need to take a timeout from your friends or ask an adult for help. If you get into an argument, there are some things you can do to “talk” it out.

  • Stop arguing.
  • Take deep breaths, count to 20 and walk away.
  • Everyone gets a turn to tell, not yell.
  • Think of ideas for solving the problem/argument.
  • Remember, arguments are allowed but meanness is not.

Being friendly:
Being friendly is showing that you care about other kids, even ones you might not know very well. It means treating others the way you would want them to treat you. Also remember the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you.” It’s called the “golden” rule because there is value in having this kind of respect and caring attitude for one another. And isn’t this the best way to make a friend and be a friend?

Are you looking for ways to encourage these skills in your child? The Family Place is offering children’s social/emotional workshops Sept. 14-16 for children ages 5 to 13 years old. These workshops are a great way for children to meet new friends and increase their social skills. Call (435) 752-8880 or visit