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What are friendships?

Friendship is a relationship built with other people that involve affection, trust, and intimacy. Friendships are a crucial part of growing up. People need friends to survive.

What do friendships look like for your child?

It's important to encourage your child to connect with their peers, create friendships, and have healthy relationships with others but even more critical to help them appreciate that they should go for quality, not quantity, in the relationships they build. Having one or two solid, reliable friendships will likely provide more support than aiming to be popular or trying to maintain a broad social group.

On the flip side, when children are bullied or harassed at school, they might find it difficult to relate to their peers. It's important to notice your child's behaviors around others and help guide them to engage with others in healthy ways. We can assess the quality of our friendships by focusing on what our friends bring out in us. Do we feel comfortable, supported, and happy in the presence of our friends? If not, it’s probably time to think through those relationships.

When to a start conversation

Check in with your child if you suspect they are struggling to make friends, having a hard time with their current friendships, might be dealing with conflict or bullying, or struggling to read social cues.

Talking to your children about friendships

Start a conversation

Talk with your child about their friends and relationship, and feel free to talk with them about yours. Having conversations about healthy relationships – ones that involve mutual appreciation and support – will help your child know what to look for in their friends.

In conversation

Ask your child about their friendships. If you sense that your child is lonely or, talk through their feelings, help them find solutions, and foster healthy friendship skills.

Next Steps

Understand the conversation

If your child doesn’t have the friendships they want, encourage them to join clubs or organizations that might help them interact with others. For example, signing them up for an art class or a sport might be a great way to nudge them in a healthy direction to meet people with common interests.

Continue the conversation

Help your child build quality friendships over time. Talk to them about their friends, their relationships, and how to make sure they develop the kind of friendships they deserve.

Five conversation starter pack cards splayed out on a blue background.

Continue the conversation 

Our Conversation Starter Pack (CSP) is an interactive resource, available in English and Spanish, that supports parents, caregivers, trusted adults and young people in discussions about emotional wellness. It includes reflection questions, dialogue prompts and activities everyone can take part in.