Friendship Day 2019 is being celebrated worldwide today. We’ve got a few fantastic ideas to help your little ones make some besties.
Ah, making friends—if only it were as easy as walking into the local retro-themed coffee house and trading sarcastic quips about life, love, careers and the Ugly Naked Guy. Well, luckily, Friendship Day is here to help out!
Think of it like that loyal chum you can always call on to do the school pick-up when you’re stuck in the office and the school is ringing to advise that they’re not a free babysitting service.
Officially known as the ‘wordier’ International Day of Friendship, the United Nations describes the occasion as being “based on the recognition of the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world.”
Or in other, shorter, words—being nice to each other.
It’s an event more in spirit (alas there is no giant hugging party we’re aware of). But it serves as a fantastic acknowledgement and gentle reminder of the importance of making and maintaining friendships.
Friend it like Beckham
There’s no doubt that as we get older, making friends becomes more and more difficult. When you were a child it was sometimes as simple as having a common obsession with the kid next door. You both like blowing bubbles all day long? Boom—lifelong bond sorted!
But as an adult, it’s not that simple. The social awkwardness, insecurity and subconscious bias that comes from the loss of childhood innocence can make us guarded. Very guarded.
Our friendship circles tend to form from those we work with, or have been lucky enough to hold onto from school or university. And, ironically, in a world of social media where connections should be a breeze—we’re becoming more disconnected than ever.
The way our kids interact socially is only clouded in more and more uncertainty as we move into the future. Things just aren’t as simple as they used to be; the increasing use of technology and the pressures of growing up to ‘have it all’ only make life more ruthless. Our kids are expected to achieve a lot, and with that expectation comes competition.
It’s vital to raise our kids knowing the importance of togetherness. So, we’re utilising the underlying message of Friendship Day to give you a few great tips on how your littlies can embrace friendship like a big, almost-but-not-quite-suffocating bear hug.
Turn online off
We’re all aware of the dangers of social media. Comparisons, trolling, liking—it can all breed plenty of division. The recent removal of the ‘like’ functionality in Instagram is just a small indication of how detrimental social media has been, but these sorts of changes are baby steps, and as a parent, the power really is in your hands.
By limiting the amount of exposure your kids have to the online world—and the social media sphere in particular—it naturally creates more time to get them out there to interact in real life and make real friends.
Then there’s a great flow-on effect: it’ll limit any excess use of social media that you may have too. Go and make some new friends yourself!
Playdate it again, Sam
Until your kids start regular schooling, it can be difficult to get them interacting socially. You’re probably already exhausted from that pesky task of feeding and clothing them that the idea of then doing anything above that sounds about as appealing as finding their lost sock for the forty-seventh time.
But playdates are simply gold—they’re the beginnings of the interaction they need. They’re also an outlet for you to communicate with other humans too!
Perhaps you don’t have any existing friends who are parents you can turn to, but fear not—there are heaps of organisations that run activities you can enrol your kids in. Whether it’s a sport, learning to swim, circus tricks or kids’ yoga—whatever it is—there will be other kids for them … and other adults for you.
This may sound like it goes a little against the grain of this article, but by implementing healthy competition into their world, it teaches a lot of things about relating to others and forming fulfilling relationships. But the keyword is healthy competition.
Competition is just a part of human nature, and so the trick is to nurture that in the right way. It doesn’t have to be in the obvious medium of sport, but even with things like puzzles, games or, if you’re lucky, chores!
Whatever the activity, it could be done with siblings, other kids, or even you. Deliver it in the right way and it will promote traits such as respect, teamwork and trust—all trademarks of friendship.
The friend of the road
Friendship Day may seem a little naff as an adult, but the message is a great one. It’s the ideal excuse to get kids on a path that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
With some gentle nudging when they’re young, your kids will learn the lesson of friendship best said by C.S. Lewis:
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You Too? I thought I was the only one.”
Let us know in the comment section if you’ve got anything planned for Friendship Day 2019!
And if you need some other friendship tips, check out our blog about how to maintain connections with friends who have chosen not to have kids.