It wasn’t until it was time to apply for a secondary school for Miss Frugal that I thought seriously about the huge part that friends could play in her happiness.
Regular readers might remember that we were faced with the hardest decision we’d had to make since becoming parents when choosing what secondary school to send her to. We had to choose between sending her to the school all of her friends were going to which we knew to have poor education standards and even worse disciplinary standards, or to the local faith school where she wouldn’t know a single person but would get a great education from a school rated as Outstanding and in the Top 5 in the whole area for results.
The decision was made harder because she was so shy and had very little self confidence and I worried that she would struggle to make new friends which could affect her education even more than sending her to the school where her friends would be going.
I battled with myself for weeks before the prospect of a much better education won out although even then I spent many sleepless nights worrying if it was the right decision for her.
It turned out that I needn’t have worried at all because on her first day she was put with a group of girls who knew each other and from that day on, she’s never looked back. They’ve included her in everything they’ve done from days out to sleepovers and I can’t tell you the difference it’s made to her as a person.
It’s been a pleasure watching her grow into the happy, confident and bubbly thirteen year old that she is now and I genuinely credit most of that to the fact that she has such an amazing group of friends. They’re always there for her and she’s got a better social life than I have these days (which I agree isn’t saying much).
I know she’s has been really lucky to have found such a great group of girls who are all good friends and I thank my lucky stars for these girls every single day because of the difference they’ve made to her because without them, I could have been telling a very different story today!
So what can we do to help our children make and maintain healthy friendships?
Miss Frugal knows that her friends are welcome at our house at any time and that I’m always happy to take them somewhere or pick them up. I also try and have treats and snacks in for them when they do come around because ultimately, if they’re hanging out at our house then I know where they are which makes me happy – it’s the main reason I want our garage converting.
But you can go a step further than that!
The very lovely and clever Becky Goddard-Hill who blogs over at Emotionally Healthy Kids has just launched a set of FINK conversation cards to support children with their friendships. It’s something that I want to do with Master Frugal because he’s going to be in the same boat as Miss Frugal next September and I know I’ll be extremely lucky if he falls into a group of friends like Miss Frugal has done.
These healthy friendship cards will help you start conversations to encourage your children to look at the friendships they have now and how well they are working. They will also help children consider how to make new friends and how to solve problems within friendships. They contain powerful and thought provoking questions and will hopefully help him to understand his relationships with his friends a little better and for a thinker like him, that’s just what he needs.
I know from personal experience just how much of a difference good friends can make to a child so if there’s a chance I can help them to nurture healthy friendships then I’m all over it!
What about you, do you help your children where it comes to their friends?
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Image credit: Shutterstock, William Perugini