Fostering an environment for healthy friendships

(Three minute read)
Hi! One of my friends and colleagues asked me today if I’m “doing” summer. It took me a moment to catch on. Yes, I’ve been “doing” summer the last four weeks and loving every moment of it! I hope you are, too! Self-care enables us to care better for others!

I used to say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had 10 months of summer vacation and 2 months of school each year?!” And then COVID hit. Gotta watch what you pray for…

In our last blog, I wrote that “children are drawn to relationships that are familiar and/or comfortable.” Btw, this is true for adults, too. We hang around people with whom we feel at home. Therefore, what can parents do to promote healthier friendships in their children?

Important Tip: Create a safe and healthy home environment.

What are the reds and greens of different kinds of home environments?

Reds – Unhealthy:
Yelling, screaming, hitting, bullying, mocking, put-downs, insulting, not helping/supporting, selfish, neglecting, my way or the highway, threatening, not setting limits, excessive and harsh punishments, etc.

Greens – Healthy:
Calm voice, calm hands, playing nicely, getting along, respecting feelings, complimenting, helping/supporting, generous, caring, compromising, asking nicely, setting limits clearly and kindly, giving reasonable and fair consequences, etc.

When children are being difficult at home, how are we managing their behavior? Are we yelling, screaming, threatening, mocking, and belittling? Or are we using our words and hands calmly, respecting feelings, negotiating, compromising, complimenting, giving fair and reasonable consequences, and setting limits, etc.?

Inevitably, kids have fights with their peers. When they need to resolve their fights, guess how they will resolve them?? They will imitate our behaviors and choose the strategies they’ve seen in our homes. Either they will choose reds or greens (or a combo).

Your child might be the one doing the reds or greens or they might be the recipient of such treatment.

Now if your child grew up in a home with lots of these reds happening, when his “friends” treat him this way, he will not balk at all because it’ll feel normal. On the other hand, if your child suddenly gets mistreated this way and he’s not accustomed to such behavior, he is much more likely to run for the hills and stay away from such kids.

In short, you want your kid to be attracted to the nicer, kinder kids?
When you parent your child, continue to implement and model the kind of behavior you want your child to see, do, and be comfortable with.

Enjoy the summer warmth! You might miss it in the winter when it’s 12-19 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside for 5 days straight.

Dr. Devora

P.S. It does happens at times that parents are modeling healthy behavior at home but a child has fallen into an unlucky class full of problematic peers. The parents might need to take action to prevent further damage, such as switching classes or even schools.

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