Tips to help kids find and maintain friendships

The MIND 24-7 Team | May 14, 2024

Friendship is key part of childhood. For kids, learning how to make and maintain friendships is about more than having someone to play with. Friends help them learn how to relate to others and provide an important support system. These tips will help them form bonds that will last a lifetime.

Icebreaker ideas

Icebreaker activities are not only fun but also effective in helping kids feel more comfortable and open when meeting new friends. They are a great way for kids to overcome shyness, start conversations and make new friends. Encourage children to participate in these fun icebreakers with enthusiasm, kindness and an open mind to foster new connections and build lasting friendships:

  • Two Truths and a Lie: Each child shares two true statements about themselves and one false statement. The other kids have to guess which statement is the lie. This game encourages conversation and laughter.
  • Name, Animal, Action: In a circle, one child starts by saying their name, followed by an animal name, and then an action (e.g., “Sarah, Snake, Swimming”). The next child repeats the first child’s answers and adds their own. It’s a silly and entertaining way to break the ice.
  • Emoji Feelings: Prepare cards with different emojis representing feelings (happy, sad, excited, surprised, etc.). Kids pick a card and share a time they felt that emotion. This activity helps children connect through shared experiences.
  • Collaborative Drawing: Pair up kids and give each duo a piece of paper and some markers. One child starts drawing a shape or pattern without showing it to their partner. They then pass the paper to the other child, who continues the drawing. This collaborative art project sparks creativity and teamwork.
  • Story Starters: Provide each child with a prompt or beginning of a story. Have them take turns adding to the tale. This cooperative storytelling activity encourages imagination and bonding.
  • Who Am I? Guessing Game: Write names of famous people or fictional characters, animals or objects on sticky notes and stick one on each child’s forehead without them seeing it. Kids then ask yes-or-no questions to figure out who or what they are. This game promotes interaction and problem-solving skills.
  • Memory Sharing: Have each child share a favorite memory or experience with the group. This activity helps kids learn more about each other and find common interests and sparks conversations.

Icebreaker activities are not only fun but also effective in helping kids feel more comfortable and open when meeting new friends. Encourage children to participate in these games with enthusiasm, kindness and an open mind to foster new connections and build lasting friendships.

Good friendships can last a lifetime

Building and maintaining friendships is a crucial part of a child’s social and emotional development and overall mental health. Friends provide support, companionship and fun experiences that enrich our lives. However, just like any relationship, friendships require effort and care. These valuable tips can help kids maintain friendships:

  • Communicate clearly: Open and honest communication is vital in any friendship. Encourage kids to talk to their friends about their feelings, thoughts and experiences. Teaching children to express themselves clearly and to actively listen to their friends will help strengthen their bonds.
  • Show empathy and understanding: Help kids develop empathy by understanding and sharing their friends’ feelings. Encourage them to be supportive and caring, especially during difficult times. By putting themselves in their friends’ shoes, children can deepen their connections and foster meaningful relationships.
  • Respect differences: Every individual is unique, and it’s essential to respect and appreciate differences. Children should learn to embrace diversity in opinions, beliefs and interests. Encouraging tolerance and respect toward others’ differences promotes harmonious and inclusive friendships.
  • Be trustworthy and reliable: Building trust is the foundation of any healthy friendship. Kids should foster trust by being honest and dependable, and keeping their promises. Friends should feel secure knowing they can rely on each other.
  • Spend quality time together: Shared experiences create lasting memories and strengthen friendships. Encourage kids to participate in activities they enjoy together, such as playing sports, crafting or exploring nature. Quality time allows friends to connect, have fun and create a strong bond.
  • Resolve conflicts peacefully: Disagreements and conflicts are a natural part of any relationship. Teach children how to resolve conflicts calmly and respectfully. Encourage them to communicate their feelings, listen to their friends’ perspectives and work together to find solutions. Learning to navigate conflicts constructively fosters problem-solving skills and strengthens friendships.
  • Offer support and encouragement: Friends are there to support and uplift each other. Kids should celebrate their friends’ achievements, provide encouragement during challenging times and lend a helping hand when needed. Being a supportive friend creates a positive and nurturing environment for both parties.

Friendships are precious connections that require attention, effort and mutual respect. By practicing effective communication, empathy, respect, trustworthiness, quality time, conflict resolution and support, children can create and maintain fulfilling friendships that last a lifetime. Encourage kids to cherish their friendships, invest in them and enjoy the wonderful companionship they bring.

If you or your child is struggling to make or keep friends, maybe MIND 24-7 can help. MIND 24-7 is here for you and your family. We offer walk-in treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns—24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays. All adults and youth are welcome. We accept most insurance, Medicare and AHCCCS. If you or a loved one needs mental health care, visit one of our convenient locations in the Phoenix area or text/call 1-844-MIND247.