Advice Column, Child, Parenting

Why friendship is important to children

  • Sugar Bay
  • Category Advice Column, Child, Parenting

Have your children been feeling lonely missing their friends during the lockdown? We can all agree this year has been a hard and strange one. It has also been a stressful time for our children – not knowing when they will be going back to school and having to keep a safe distance from grandparents and their best friends. At Sugar Bay, we understand the value of great friendships in a child’s life and the tremendous impact it can have on their well-being. 

When kids miss their friends, that loneliness might express itself as anger, anxiety and sleep problems. Most children will be pleased to get back into their familiar routine and might even want to spend more time with friends when this time of isolation finally comes to an end. As parents, we don’t like to see our children stressed and unhappy, we don’t want our children to be worried about global events because they are just kids.  

Our friends remain a hugely important part of our lives, from sharing problems, asking for advice, uncontrollable laughter and good times, sharing our life events and proudest moments, our friends help each of us define who we are. For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up and an essential part of their social and emotional development. Many camp programs specifically focus on fostering those friendships, along with teaching, modelling, and practising social skills. 

The primary role of camp counselors is facilitating friendships and positive experiences. They are also trained to help campers build social skills. At most camp programs, counselors participate in training a week or two before a camp. Sessions include exercises in communication, leadership, and team building, during which counselors are trained to lead “ice-breakers” that help campers get to know one another and connect. Making friends is an important part of a camp experience, and with the help of their counselors, children learn and practice their friend-making skills.

Bullying is something many children have to deal with at school. The effects of bullying on a child are devastating and can lead to labeling and being stuck with a particular perception. A child may become known as a nerd and quiet amongst their peers when they can be boisterous in another setting. We encourage parents to send their child without a friend to camp. Being alone in an unfamiliar place can be daunting, but with the help of an excellent counselor, children quickly adapt and make new friends rather than sticking with their best friend throughout the camp. Often, a child will break out of their supposed categorization if given the chance. And in the process life-long friendships are made. 

If there is one thing that the lockdown period has reminded us of is the importance of family and friends. Should your child want to escape the indoors in search of adventure, Sugar Bay is always here for you. Visit www.sugarbay.co.za for more information. 

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