As parents, you serve as a role model to your son, especially when it comes to being a good friend — your son watches and learns from your example. Through your interactions and relationships, he observes friendship, conflict resolution, fun moments and the things you say when your friends aren’t around. Teaching your son how to be a good friend is an essential role, he implements what he has seen and learnt into his own relationships. Here are some practical ways to help him.
1. Model what good friendship looks like
Boys’ friendships often reflect that of his parents. From the way you treat your friends, your son learns how to communicate, listen, share and encourage others — as well as the qualities to look for in peers. It is important to model the type of friendships you want your children to have. How you speak to people, how you treat them and how you make them feel are all noticed. He pays attention to your behaviour and learns how to treat his friends through the way you treat yours.
2. Instil self-esteem
An effective way to teach your son to be a good friend is to first teach him to be good to himself. When a child has good self-esteem, he won’t feel it is necessary to bully other people or to take part in mean behaviours. A child with a healthy sense of self is also more likely to develop healthier friendships and avoid toxic relationships down the road. The best type of friends are the people who are already confident in themselves, rather than searching for others to fill an emotional void. By instilling your son with a sense of self-worth and confidence, you are setting him up to be a good friend to others.
3. Explore good qualities
Good friends are loyal, trustworthy, truthful and selfless. Don’t just show your son how to be a good friend, teach him about healthy relationships. Talk to him and identify the characteristics that make a good friend — explore these qualities and encourage him to implement them when interacting with others.
Books can be very helpful in teaching these qualities – childrens’ literature is filled with strong friendships. Use books as a way to talk about what make friendships work and the different traits that each character displayed. Read books about friends who are very different from each other to show your son how respect and friendships can flourish regardless of differences.
4. Teach social skills
Acting appropriately in different social situations doesn’t always come naturally. Role-playing different situations can help in teaching your son social skills, such as learning how to say “no,” and accepting “no” as an answer from another person. To be a good friend, your son needs to know how to apologise, argue respectfully, listen to others and express empathy. Have conversations about what a good and bad friend looks like, how to resolve conflict and how to have conversations in a polite way.
At Christ Church Grammar School, we believe that boys do well by having a sense of belonging in an environment where they are recognised, appreciated, encouraged and challenged. This forms the foundation for thriving friendships. If you are interested in learning more about how we build good men, download our Building Good Men Magazine.