For some couples, Valentine's Day is an occasion to stop and take the time to tell each other how much you love them. For others, it’s a time to show affection to those around them. But what if, for children, Valentine's Day became the holiday for friendship - this form of love and respect that we want to instill in them? This date on the calendar can become a great reason to praise them and seize the opportunity they have to be surrounded by good people.
Even though we have to think about love every day, and even more this year, it’s important to mark this moment in a special and singular way.
Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, is taking the opportunity to open your horizons on the development of friendship and to reflect on the meaning of this special day.
How does friendship develop?
According to health professionals, the interactions and bonds that are created between children provide important learning, especially in terms of social norms, assertiveness and how to decode non-verbal language. These skills in maintaining social relationships and resolving conflicts will be consolidated over the course of meetings and friendships until adulthood.
Making new friends, reaching out to others, talking to people you don't know; for some children this is a big challenge. They are embarrassed to interact in public and sensitive to conflict, which makes them more distant. Despite everything, it remains important to promote their social development, at their own pace, in order to equip them as best as possible for life in society.
To help you, here are the main stages of a child’s social skills development:
From 0 to 3 years
Although the family remains a refuge and symbolizes security, the child begins to learn socialization.
From 3 to 6 years
The young person discovers a world of imaginary friends and creativity, as well as the limits and norms in society. The preschool period is very important in the development of behaviours and attitudes towards others. Through play, they learn modes of interaction, bonding and harmony. In daycare or kindergarten, children may have affinities with certain, more specific friends. The family nevertheless continues to be the primary place of socialization.
From 6 to 9 years
During this stage, the child reinforces acquired social skills. For them, loyalty, trust and caring are important aspects of friendship. No matter how short or long-lived they are, friendships are meaningful. During this period, the majority of conflicts between children relate to the way one of them acts and the consequences of this action such as, for example, revealing a secret. A friendship can end when the child decides to do so unilaterally, because their friend "doesn't do what I ask them to do" or because their interests are no longer the same.
From 9 to 12 years
It’s the start of real friendships. They are nourished by common points and shared fields of interest, such as playing a sport or an attraction to music. The friendship relationship is the most visible aspect for a child in their relationships with others. Research shows that having friends can act as a protective factor for school-aged children from at-risk family settings, for example. Having friends also increases self-confidence and promotes academic success.
From 12 to 17 years
Friendship takes priority—ahead of family—and being recognized through the eyes of others is important. Children and teens realize that they can influence how they feel, such as containing their anger during an argument. The regulation of emotions, like their understanding, is an advantage for children in their relationships with other people. Good regulation is linked to an ease in integrating into a group, making friends or resolving conflicts. Over time, the adolescent understands that friendship is a developing and evolving process.
As parents, we all want our children to discover friendships and enjoy the beautiful moments that come with them. Our role is to support them in this learning and guide them to maintain healthy and happy interpersonal relationships. Let's take advantage of Valentine's Day to show our gratitude for all these beautiful moments of friendship that strengthen ties and help our children grow, laugh and flourish, whatever their age.