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What is a friend to a child

What is a friend to a child


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My four year old son has a stone that he calls 'Piedrita'. He painted mouth, eyes and nose. And she is his friend. Sometimes he puts her in the bathtub. He says he has to wash 'his hair'. He also takes her down to the garden, and introduces her to her favorite dolls to see if she makes more friends.

So little stone already knows 'Little Bear', 'Little Elephant' and 'Little Giraffe'. What surprises me is the affection with which he treats Piedrita and all his inanimate friends. It is the reflection of what he understands by friendship: dedication, love, generosity and respect for differences.

For younger children, there is no external beauty. So forceful. It does not matter if a child is lame, has glasses or devices in the ears. It doesn't matter if he is Chinese, African or Indian. Do not care. His eyes are still free from prejudice. They share their toys or do not share them, but not because the other child rejects them, but because they are still not very clear about what friendship means.

Children grow and observe their surroundings. They see that others relate. They learn to play with other children. And little by little they understand that those children with whom they share the most things, and with whom they feel best, are called 'friends'.

When children get older, their eyes start to blur and they see differently. They start to notice the 'differences' . Some tolerate them and others begin to reject them. They also begin to select their friends. They may choose the ones they admire the most, the ones they consider the most attractive, the most sympathetic, or the one who gives them the most toys.

At that point, when they begin to select their friends, is when they also begin to reject others. From the age of 6 we already hear that 'Marta is no longer my friend'. Or 'My worst friend is ...'. And with the greatest sincerity and the least mercy in the world, are able to expel a child from the group and make it empty. Friendship begins to become a complicated network. Some want to command. Others don't want to be commanded. Groups of friends are often real power struggles. And in the end, they all compete for leadership.

Each child plays a role within the group of friends. Everyone has their own function. There is the imaginative child who brings creativity. And the active child who brings energy. There is the most daring and the most rational child who brings balance. But everyone should have the same rights: the right to play, to have fun, to give an opinion, to participate, to choose. At this age, the concept of 'best friend' also begins to form. And it is that friend who is more similar in tastes or who most complements the other. Here the children's personality plays a big role.

So every time I see my son talk to 'Piedrita', with 'Osito' and 'Jirafita', I think he rehearses a great role. Like an actor when preparing an important play. Its title: 'Essay on Friendship'. First part.

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