The ability to make friends is something we all want for our children. The building blocks of this talent begins to form at a very early age – even from those first crucial weeks of life.

The skills of empathy, trust, communication and more begin to form from the first time you hold your baby in your arms. As they grow and begin to explore the world around them, these skills develop – and the environment they inhabit plays a vital role.

Making friends is a mutual action. We need to reach out, communicate and create bonds from which trust grows. Being able to carry out these actions stems from the neural connections a child builds during the initial weeks, months and years of life, hence there’s a lot we can do to help stimulate these.

Supporting Skills and the Importance of Caregivers and early Childhood Education

As children grow and interact with those around them, they begin to learn and understand the boundaries of human behavior. Whether or not we realise it, we all live by a certain ‘code’ that tells us what is or isn’t acceptable. The foundations upon which this is built begins at birth.

The key skills that drive our ability to make friends are:

  • Empathy
  • Trust
  • Consideration
  • Appreciation
  • Self control

By far the optimal way that children begin to develop these is by being in a caring and nurturing environment. Both home life and early educational facilities play incredibly important roles – indeed, the activities and interactions with others of similar ages are crucial.

Early learning educators are in a unique position to guide these opportunities. Learning through play and with others who share the same interests is critical, something that a skillful teacher can stimulate and support. This guides children to learn communication skills – both verbal and body language – respect their peers and to grow confidence in their friendship-making abilities.

The environment of such a place plays a big part. Providing areas that are created to encourage natural curiosity is key. Indoor and outdoor zones bring nature to the fore – tactile exploration is learned through playing in sand, with water, touching different materials and more. Music, sound, color, drawing… All of these play a role in stimulating child interaction and communication. A chill out zone provides a safe place to retreat when necessary, taking a rest, nap or a break from others when needed.

As the child develops their abilities through play, they begin to discover the complex skills that provide the foundation for further development into adulthood. These include:

  • Positive interactions
  • Self-limitation
  • Assertiveness
  • Participation skills
  • Tolerance
  • Consideration for others
  • Coping with disappointment
  • Taking others’ feelings into account
  • Respect
  • Conflict resolution

That spat over a toy, watching an adult comfort a child who’s fallen over, sharing a biscuit with another… These are all important developmental signposts that take the child through a steep learning curve.

The key takeaway is that children need to interact with many others from an early age, but to do so in a safe and trusted environment. Whether this is at home, at friends, or at a trusted early learning establishment, it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to our offspring.

Tracey Davey – Operations Manager Evoke Early Learning

Tracey is a passionate and talented leader at Evoke Early Learning who ensures that relationships, projects, systems and processes are designed, implemented and evaluated to support the efficient operational delivery of the service.

Tracey coordinates and leads working groups in all activities necessary for the successful development, implementation, and completion of special projects. Tracey has a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, as well as dual VIT registration as an Early Childhood Teacher and Primary Teacher. She is also a VIT Trained Mentor Teacher.

Children need to interact with many others from an early age, but to do so in a safe and trusted environment. Visit MUM CFOs blogs for more.