Teaching Kids About Friendship

Hi Parents, Kid-Adjacent Folks, People Who Remember Being A Kid! My kid asked me the other day, “How do you make friendships?”

I really love the idea of pursuring friendship as a skill. Can you share how you may have practiced this with you kid? Ideas I have:

  • Books! Of course. Any favs you guys have?
  • Role playing! the best. Any scripts you’ve used? how did your kids like it? who did you bring in?
  • Movies! Any favs?
  • Your own experiences in being a kid - what resonated with you?

Anything else :slight_smile: Resources fine too ofc.

My history: I had built in friends in my huge cousin group. I got a lot of socialization early on. I don’t have a lot of great memories of working through this stuff, except in peer pressure, which I experienced but didn’t ever cave into because I’m insufferable. The only thing I can really bring to it is knowing that AS AN ADULT, socialization is a skill like any, and I want to help my kid.

[I may have posted this before. I don’t remember guys. I don’t care enough to look.]


I was the new kid in school several times. I think listening skills could be a place to start. Most of being a good conversationalist comes down to being an active listener.


Hmm. Does he seem to be lacking the skill more, or the opportunity? Because young kid friendship seems to really heavily be “we do the same stuff at the same place and I like it being adjacent to you”.


How to keep in contact and how to repair relationships are important skills in maintaining friendships. Also ones I am definitely needing to get better at.


I think he goes to the same school as some kids, and the same park often! But maybe I’m thinking of someone ekse?


That’s a good point! Encouraging curiosity, turn taking.

Well, he’s 4, so I can confidently say he’s lacking most skills LOL. But yes as Elle said he goes to school, has one steady neighborhood pal, a small gaggle of cousins. My personal opinion and approach is that leaning into social skill development intentionally in small humans can only provide them benefits and even protection as they age :slight_smile:

You’re so good at it with me! The missives from Australia with cute content always make my heart warm. In my 30s keeping up with people has been something I’m sloooowly getting better at.


Okay so this is more of a proactivity idea versus feeling like there’s a gap vs peers right now. That’s a good idea. I guess I hope reading enough books and stuff will model things for her haha. Although that has been a motivation for my “physical” year and trying to step down my screen time- I realized she can’t see my digital relationships and I wanted to model adult friendships for her. That’s only tangentially related, but was something that had occurred to me. So much of our relationships are “hidden” now. We’re not chatting it up on the phone for hours in the kitchen like our moms did (just mine? That was universal right?)


This post is a thought dump.

Step 0: meeting people. Friends of friends (or family). Shared interests/experiences (activities/classes, school/daycare, volunteering, gym, etc). Total strangers/random encounters (park, grocery store/coffee shop lines, bus/airplane/airport/travel)

Step 1: introductions, starting conversations, small talk.

  • learning when and how it’s appropriate to approach strangers.
  • kids get a shortcut to this because it’s OK to walk up to their kids like “hi I’m Name I like dinosaurs and Cocomelon do you want to be friends?”

Step 1b: asking for contact info/expressing desire to reconnect.

Step 2: making plans and inviting people.

  • For kids, basically play dates at home or park.
  • Maybe also taking extracurricular together, birthday parties, etc.
  • Obviously takes parental assistance with kid input (eg do you want to take art/singing/softball with Friend? Do you want to invite them over/to the park/etc)
  • For adults, inviting a casual contact for coffee, a parent friend to the park, a gym buddy to meet at the gym, someone you meet regularly to a celebration (bday outing, housewarming, game night, etc). Starting a book club, crafting circle, D&D and inviting people.

Step 3: being vulnerable, asking for help, or going through joint stressors. I think the above will get you friendly acquaintances, but to deepen a friendship you need to go through stuff.

  • Kind of happens naturally for kids. Growing up is stressful. Going camping, riding a roller coaster, studying for a test.
  • Why it’s relatively easy to make work friends. You not only spend lots of time together but you Face Challenges. Real ones, not fake team building ones.
  • If you aren’t a good fit, challenges will push you apart… And that’s ok.

Step 3a: being a good friend, on the flip side of being vulnerable. That’s a whole topic by itself.

Step 4: letting go people who are a bad fit. Because the more time and energy you spend on people who fundamentally don’t click with you and vice versa), the less you are spending finding and building relationships with Your People.

  • It’s also OK to have a bunch of “Step 2” acquaintances/friends about, but it’s the deeper friendships that will feed your soul.

Side note: people, including kids are comfortable with different sizes of social circle. Some will feel lonely with just one friend, others will have trouble keeping up with more than 1-3 and won’t be interested in spending more time with classmates, acquaintances, even if they are friendly. That’s OK.


Thinking back, my parents taught me about making friends by modeling and facilitating.

Modeling: they did not chat up strangers but met people through other people a lot. They would invite their new friends for dinner or a movie, or plan hikes, picnics. Trading babysitting is the main form of help I remember, but I’m sure things happened off my radar.

Facilitating: they would ask if we wanted to invite a friend over, to the park, or on most outings (aquarium, zoo). They took us to bday parties we were invited to and generally let us go to things we wanted to do (unless there was a safety concern or clear conflict or grounding situation :sweat_smile:). Signed us up for activities with our friends that they knew. We went camping with my bffs family a lot (company both for us and for them!)

Most of the discussions, books, and “active teaching” they did about friendship was more on how to be a good friend rather than how to make them.