How to Help your Children Learn Who is a True Friend

Teaching your child to distinguish who is a true friend will help them identify toxic relationships. Understanding theirself and acting like a good friend also allows them to enjoy the blessing of friendship.
How to Help your Children Learn Who is a True Friend
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Written by Thady Carabaño

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Parents are children’s references and often are their first friends. After all, they share their games and experiences. However, it’s natural that as children, grow they begin to create new relationships. They meet friends at school, in the neighborhood or the children in their family. As this happens, how do you help them understand who is a true friend during this emotional growing experience?

This job starts around 4 or 5 years old when our children begin to develop one of the most important social skills: learning to have true friends and keep them. Then, they will also have to learn to recognize when a friendship is becoming the focus of anguish or worry.

Teaching them from a young age the value of friendship is one of the main tasks we have as parents. This is especially if we want the friendships of our children to have the potential to bring happiness.

Help Your Child Understand Who Their True Friends Are

If you’re a parent, it may seem obvious to you that friendship should be a positive experience.

However, it’s not that way for all little ones. They must understand this. And if they don’t experience this, something is not right.

Children must learn early on who is a true friend and that friendships are a source to express love.

How to Identify a True Friend

true friends hugging

We can’t choose the friendships our children have. This is especially true during their adolescence, which is when friends often take the place of other interests and become the most important thing in their lives.

However, what we can do is guide them so that they know how to build valuable relationships in which respect and sincerity are valued.

To do so, you can ask your child to check which of their friends have the following signs. This way, s/he can determine who is a true friend:

A True Friend

  • Celebrates your achievements and supports you in bad times.
  • Helps you with whatever you need.
  • Treats you well. They are kind to you and never mock you or your opinions.
  • Is honest. A real friend tells you the truth about what they think and doesn’t change their personality towards you when you least expect it.
  • A true friend avoids conflict and doesn’t make fun of people.
  • Is loyal and consistent. Even when they argue, you’re not worried about losing their friendship.
  • Laugh and have fun together.
  • Don’t care if you have other friends. Friendships that do not include other people tend to be toxic.
  • Respect your opinion and let you talk. Even if they don’t agree with you, they value your beliefs.
  • Don’t force you to do what you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go to a party, drink alcohol, or do drugs, they respect your decision without pressure.

If our children have at least one friend who meets half of these characteristics, they are undoubtedly in a good, meaningful relationship.

Read this article, too: 7 Important Qualities of Good Friends

How to Help Your Child Overcome Toxic Friendships

Every afternoon after getting home from high school, Marina locks herself in her room. Her mother knows that it’s her way of isolating herself to deal with the treatment she receives from one of her best friends.

This girl is very inconsistent. One day, she doesn’t leave her alone. Then, the next day, she ignores her completely and leaves her out of the group. Marina doesn’t know how to react to a friend who loves her and hates her at the same time.

This is completely normal.

As in any human relationship, communication is fundamental. To guide your child through a toxic friendship, communication is the golden key.

First of all, listen to them and be a patient listener. Walk the emotional journey that makes you feel the conflict that they are experiencing. The fact that they express their emotions is already a form of liberation.

Let Them Know Their Worth

You can help your child feed their self-esteem. One way is to devote more attention to other activities in which they excel at and that allow them to access other groups of friends.

In addition, you can also encourage them to concentrate on friendship with other kids in the class, among whom they can find real friends.

However, above all, we must help our children overcome the challenge they are facing by experiencing a negative friendship. Guide them to learn and understand the relationships they create. This will help them to have a stable platform to move beyond the drama of adolescence.

Be a True Friend to Others

The American poet and philosopher Ralph W. Emerson wrote that “the only way to have a friend is to be a friend.”

This is a very good concept for our children to understand who is a true friend. When other people show the qualities of a true friend and do the right thing, good people will be attracted to them. Therefore, it’s very likely that how you act attracts a good friend.

Children who receive the attention and guidance from their parents to build good friendships have more opportunities not only to identify who is a true friend but also to achieve fire-proof relationships full of satisfying experiences.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.