Author : Akansha Singh | Published On : 26 Oct 2023
The Impact of Early Friendships: Nurturing Social Skills and Emotional Intelligence in Children
A child's early years shape their personality and aid in their attainment of mental, physical, emotional, and social development, which is why these years are referred to as formative. When your child is receiving modern education, friendships become their way to cope. Such education also requires them to develop emotional intelligence and acquire social skills. Here is how early friendships help with that.
Your child will receive a huge boost of confidence in themselves and their actions if they find friends early in their life. Their friendships will act as a validation of their entire personality. When they know that they can get friends being who they are, their self-esteem will increase and they will start valuing themselves more. A child can get lonely without any friends, especially at an age when they need the comfort of friendship the most, and loneliness leeches away all their confidence, self-esteem, and belief in their own selves.
This is why it is important that your children find early friendships because they will inspire them to open up and do things they wouldn't if they had no friends. If your child grows up to be confident, you can rest assured that their future will be bright. There are many things in the world that can only be accomplished by people who are confident in themselves and their actions. Making friends early in life helps your child develop that confidence because they know they have the support of their friends.
Development of Empathy
When you learn to get attached to people, you learn to empathize with them. Empathy develops in a person when their emotional understanding develops, which is a process that is kick-started when friends are made for the first time, especially at a young age. A child’s mind is highly impressionable and develops quickly, so when they create an emotional connection with their friends, they start to understand the various emotions that a person feels. This is also the time when they begin to open up to different experiences and perspectives in terms of emotions.
Knowing their friend is feeling emotion will aid in their emotional intelligence development and make them feel that emotion as well because your kid has learned what can cause it. However, the awareness about said emotion will also make them more understanding and it will aid them in providing comfort and support to their friend. This type of empathy is the result of early friendships because they shape your child right from the time when they are most impressionable and can be moulded into better human beings.
Active Engagement in Activities
When your child has friends who can not only encourage them to try new experiences but also share those experiences with them, your child’s engagement in activities is bound to increase. Children studying in residential schools often find kids from their neighbourhood studying there and that makes it easier for them to form friendships. When they have friends who not only stay with them during school hours but after them as well, children become more active.
They participate more in activities in school, be they Co-curricular, extracurricular, sports, or ceremonies of any kind, if their friends are involved. Everything becomes a fun activity when you get to do it with your friends. If your child finds friends at a young age, they can become active in their school life right from the beginning.
Improvement of Mental Health
Friendship chases loneliness away, so if your child. has enough friends to cheer them up, then their mental health will improve. Your child will feel loved and supported. The sense of belonging and all the experiences they share with their friends will ensure their mental well-being. When children are studying in boarding schools, away from their parents, their mental health is negatively impacted but making friends brings in improvement.
Understanding the Concept of Boundaries
Your child cannot understand what boundaries are and how to respect them if they don't have friends at the age when they should be learning all this, i.e., their formative years. Everyone has certain boundaries and respecting them is an essential part of carrying on any successful relationship. If a person doesn’t learn this in their childhood, it is very hard for them to learn it in their adulthood. This impacts all of their relationships in their adult life quite negatively.
Friendship teaches a kid about the boundaries of their friends and the lines that must not be crossed. Things like consent and personal space start meaning something. Respecting such things is a sign of mental and emotional growth.
Better Communication Skills
Once your child gets friends, they become more communicative, better at listening, and much more. Their overall communication skills improve because they learn to express themselves in a better way both verbally and non-verbally. When your child interacts with their friends on a daily basis, they start understanding the various ways in which they can communicate and convey their thoughts most effectively. They also learn to listen patiently and allow the other person to express themselves freely. This is how they get better communication skills which help them later on in life.
Better Grasp on Emotions and How to Express Them
Emotions are hard to understand and you will find many adults who still struggle with grasping what they are and how they can express them in the best way. Such difficulty in understanding comes from not having friends early in life. A child experiences a range of emotions in their day-to-day life and at the stage when they are learning to communicate everything, learning how to express emotions comes easily. A child who has friends develops a kind of emotional intelligence where they not only understand emotions but also express and manage them effectively.
Easy Management of Social Situations
All humans are social beings but many don’t feel comfortable in social situations and it is often because they weren’t exposed to such situations often when they were little. A child with friends is a social creature who is not only learning to be a part of social situations but also to navigate them easily. When they have the support and companionship of their friends, they feel more capable of social activities. The fear of interacting with people does not cripple them because they are not alone and they have learned to be confident and have good communication skills because of their friendships.
The Bottom Line
These are a few ways that early friendships impact your children. They are the first step in nurturing social skills of a child so that they benefit from this in their adult life. Their journey towards adulthood becomes easier when they have these skills.