Ministry of Education, Guyana

How to Help Your Six Year Old Build Healthy Relationships

Six-year-olds care a great deal about friendship and belonging. They are curious about friends’ lives, ask questions and share stories with each other. They can engage in collaborative play and are increasingly sensitive to social rejection – including the ultimate threat of “you are not my friend anymore.” At this age, that usually means, “I am frustrated that things aren’t going my way,” and the conflict is often resolved quickly. You may also hear kids talk about best friends, but don’t be surprised if they have a new “best friend” every week.

Help your child navigate new and continuing friendships:

Talk About Friendship
Help children draw the connection between their kind, cooperative behavior and friendship. For young children, this might sound like, "You gave your friend a hug when she was crying, and that helped her feel better," or "Let's help our friends clean up before we go home — it's nice to help our friends." As the Daniel Tiger song reminds us, "Friends help each other. Yes they do, it's true."

Be Sensitive to Temperament
A child's basic temperament is hard-wired. Some children are more cautious than others, eager to observe before diving in. Some children are more naturally comfortable with big groups and new social settings. If your child is on the introverted side of the scale, they might need support in learning how to interject themselves into a group at the park, and they may prefer smaller playdates to big group activities. If your child is on the extroverted side of the scale, they may need reminders about reaching out and listening to the ideas of children who are less bold about speaking up. And all children need alone time sometimes to wind down and enjoy their own thoughts.

Schedule Playdates
Playdates are not only fun, they are a great opportunity for young children to practice friendship skills, as they learn how to share toys, take turns, cooperate and work through problems that inevitably arise. Help them expand their circle by scheduling playdates with kids outside of their familiar peer group. While kids need some supervision, make sure you also give them room to figure out how to play independently, using their own imagination.


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