The new school year brings with it such a sense of hope and possibility! New school supplies, new uniforms, clothes, and blank pages calling out for new stories to be written…and the possibility of making new friends that could last a lifetime.

We adults know something they don’t – real friendship takes respect for the other and the willingness to stand by our friend, especially when the tide turns and they need our support. Whether your child belongs to the “popular” group, or is hoping for a chance to make a friend, we their parents can help influence whom they chose to befriend and who they dismiss as “too annoying”.

Many parents believe that they have little or no role in their children’s friendships. After all, isn’t choosing who is - or is not - in their friend groups their job, and their right? Well yes, to some extent, but how we treat others in our community, especially those more vulnerable than ourselves, says a lot about who we are as people.

Here are some tips that can help:

Stay in close proximity to their friendships. When we know what’s going on in their friendships, we’re close enough to share our values of treating others with kindness, generosity, and respect. And close enough to hear when someone less popular is referred to as “annoying” or “loser”. And then we’re close enough to say they need to look deeper to discover the worth hidden below the surface in the “quiet child” or “weird kid”.

Encourage them to include acquaintances. Every project, field trip, recess or game presents another opportunity to reach out in friendship. The people they’re going to work with and/or share common space with in the future won’t be composed of just their “friend groups” but also those perfectly good people, who perhaps weren’t so popular.

Help them be open to new experiences. Our children’s future social, emotional, school, and career success begins with: Towers constructed during “free play” in kindergarten; The unexpected joy and pride in a once dreaded project with the least popular person in the class; By refusing to “like” a mean comment just because your friend did.

We hope this is the year our children take another step towards being the kind people they were meant to be. As adults, our life experience has shown us that we find the dearest people in the most unexpected circumstances, when we’re open. If we want our children to be open to real friends, and to stand up for those who are vulnerable, then we need to help guide them. At times they may be frustrated, and may remind us that “other parents” are not as involved in friendships. We can help them by leading the way, and we can support them in developing healthy relationships, so they can become the best version of themselves. Contact DM for more information: Together we can make a difference! We wish you a wonderful school year!