By Shilpa Bapna
“A good friend knows all your best stories. A best friend has lived them with you”
A Google search on “friendships are good for your health” produced over 32 million results in half a second. This one is so obvious, you don’t need the internet (in all its wisdom) to tell you that. Good friends can help you live longer, keep you physically and mentally fit, and help you ride through tough times.
So what can you do about it?
It’s easy when you are a baby. The entire world is your friend. It’s near impossible to not want to be friends with an innocent and pure soul. And babies are the closest you are going to get to that. One smile from a baby and you want to cuddle it. One cry from a baby and your heart melts.
You are your baby’s first playmate and friend. His first experience of a relationship starts with you. He learns the lessons of life skills from you. The deeper your relationship with him; the more secure he feels. This in turn develops confidence in him to start forming relationships with others especially friendship.
At the other end of the spectrum, when you are an adult (especially an old one), your friend circle is likely to be much smaller. Due to various valid reasons; and it’s not easy to form new true friendships.
Now, here’s the thing. The best chance your child has of forming deep, lasting friendships is in between these phases. In the phase when he is a child, a teenager. Children at this stage have the right mix of innocence and openness. The more people you meet and interact with in these years, the more chances you give for deep friendships to develop. This is a good time to teach children how they can communicate effectively their feelings of anger, joy, and disagreement. This will help them interact better with other children they meet and help them make friends.
School and college offer great opportunities for your child to meet potential new friends, and he needs to make the most of these. But if you really want to give your child an edge, you can create more opportunities for him. More opportunities to meet new peers, and also to strengthen existing friendships.
Whether it is summer camps in Houston, or a trek to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro – shared activities are known to build better bonds. Your child might scale Kilimanjaro when she grows up, and develop some great bonds with her trek-mates. She might see her friend slip and extend her hand in to help him; this way your toddler is learning how to empathize with, or understand, another’s feelings and experiences.
Start viewing activities like foreign language classes, ballroom dancing classes or acting classes not just as skill or capability building tools – and evaluating them as such – but as breeding grounds for great new friendships and as tools to significantly enhance your child’s existing friendships. The support and companionship of everyone together will assist the development of your child’s relationship with other children. This positive engagement will help the kids develop a sense of loyalty towards each other.
Take a science summer camp for example. The science camp activities bring out participation of a very different kind. The aviation summer camp which is a part of one of the science summer camps gives kids an opportunity to learn about science through interactive hands on experiences. It is an exhilarating experience to see children build their own models. A perfect balance of learning and fun. These camps become the building blocks of stages that your child experiences later in his life.
Houston has some remarkable summer activities for kids. There are also vacation church schools and Christian vacation schools where the kids can participate in moral science activities and form a bond of a different kind.
Encourage your child to follow her interests, and to make more connections. Discuss this with other parents you know. These are the best years for your child to form life-long friendships. Make them count. The benefits will be felt throughout your child’s lifetime!
Check out some great camps on www.iquriouskids.com to get your kids connecting with new friends!
Activities inspired by The Dangerous Book for Boys!