Your Child Needs at Least One Good Friend | Psychology Today

Children (like adults) vary in their social needs. Some are perfectly happy and healthy with one or two friends; others are easily popular and enjoy having lots of friends. The number of friends doesn’t matter, but having good friends matters a lot in your child’s development, from the age of three or four on into adulthood.

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How do your child’s friends affect their development?

A child or adolescent who has a strong network of social support—including friends as well as family, extended family, neighbours, and others—is more resilient, happier, and more successful than others. Research on kids’ friendships (as one component of social support) shows that the benefits include self-knowledge, confidence, resilience, stress management, social skills, competence, motivation, ethics, conflict resolution, school adjustment, academic achievement, health, and well-being.

So, friendships matter a lot to your child’s thriving, now and as they get older. But of course not all friendships are healthy and positive. Some are toxic, and will undermine your child’s confidence, healthy choices, and resilience.

What if you’re worried about a “bad” friend? What should you look for in your child’s behavior?

What should you do if you think your child’s friends are a bad influence?

Peer approval and social connections are vitally important to children, especially as they move toward the teen years, so it can be hard for them to recognize an unhealthy friendship. They need to manage their own friendships, but there are ways you can help them do that as successfully and happily as possible.

Your child’s friendships are critically important in their development. You can support them in making wise choices that help them be and become their best self.

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