Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Friendship Boundaries and Contingencies

    By Boys Town Contributor

Boys Town, Boys Town Parenting, Early Childhood, Friend, Parenting Resources, Parenting Skills, Toddler

When your child comes home from school and tells you that a friend refused to share a snack at the lunch table and that they are no longer friends with the other child, what do you say to them?

It's an important question because it's a critical teaching opportunity.

Helping your children deal with conflicts in friendships is an important part of their development. It involves teaching the give and take in conflict resolution, never an easy task at any age, but an important life skill, nonetheless.

Friendship Isn't Conditional on Any One Thing

Children make friends naturally. Shy kids often gravitate towards other shy kids. Outgoing kids seem to make friends wherever they go. Sometimes, shy and outgoing mix well because of a shared interest.

It is important to stress to your child the qualities that make up a long-lasting friendship. These qualities can help your child navigate the difficult decisions sometimes required for maintaining a friendship or, perhaps, make the difficult decision to move on from a friend a little easier:

  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Compassion
  • Honesty
  • Independence and boundaries
  • Cooperation, and that all of the above are two-way streets between friends

When your child tells you that another child refused to share, so, therefore, they are “not friends anymore," first, assess the situation to make sure nothing serious happened. If not, then remind your child of the reasons they established the friendship in the first place and the value that friendship brings to their life.

Talk About Boundaries

Let them know that another child isn't required to behave in a way that your child insists. They don't have to invite you to a party or share a snack at the lunch table. Talk to your child about their own personal boundaries. Ask them how the situation made them feel.

You may discover that there may be good reasons to let the friendship go if you discern a pattern of behavior that's detrimental to your child. The unshared snack event may be the tip of the iceberg in terms of your child's feelings about their friend. Or it may simply be that one or both of them were having a bad day and certainly not a good reason to end a friendship.

Either way, talking about the situation, rather than simply dismissing it, will give you valuable insights into your child's psyche and help you help your child grow into a mature, well-rounded adult.


Related Posts

 

 

Finding Positive Behaviors to Praise – Even When They’re Hard to Seehttps://www.parenting.org/blog/Pages/finding-positive-behaviors-praise-even-theyre-hard-see.aspxFinding Positive Behaviors to Praise – Even When They’re Hard to SeeIt’s easy to criticize your kids when they’re being bad. After all, when they’re bad, you notice (which may be why they’re doing it in the first place). But research shows that they’ll improve their behavior quicker – and will be less likely to tu...February 5th, 2024Boys TownIt’s easy to criticize your kids when they’re being bad. After all, when they’re bad, you notice (which may be why they’re doing it in the first place). But research shows that they’ll improve their behavior quicker – and will be less likely to tu...Terry Hyland,Boys Town Press Book Co-Author, Father and Grandfather
Tips for Talking to Your Child about Santahttps://www.parenting.org/blog/Pages/Tips-for-Talking-to-Your-Child-about-Santa.aspxTips for Talking to Your Child about SantaPlease add to the Parenting page as an article/blog. I've attached the doc, featured image and tags below.December 15, 2023UncategorizedPlease add to the Parenting page as an article/blog. I've attached the doc, featured image and tags below.
Holiday Hints for Familieshttps://www.parenting.org/blog/Pages/holiday-hints-families.aspxHoliday Hints for FamiliesRegardless of whether you observe Christmas or Hanukkah or any other winter celebration, there’s no denying that the Holidays are all about family. But what constitutes a family? After all, these days there are all kinds of families beyond the tra...November 10th, 2023Parenting AdviceRegardless of whether you observe Christmas or Hanukkah or any other winter celebration, there’s no denying that the Holidays are all about family. But what constitutes a family? After all, these days there are all kinds of families beyond the tra...Boys Town Contributor