When childrens’ friendships end

Childhood friendships can be volatile, and it can be difficult to see them come to an end, especially if you think your child has been hard done to.  So, what can you do if your child has been “dumped” by a friend?

Whether they’re sudden or gradual the saddest friendship break-ups are the ones that are one sided.  One child is drawn to new friends or activities leaving behind another child who wants to continue the friendship but no longer has the opportunity.  So how should you react in those circumstances?

1 – Think about your own experience

Think back to your own childhood experiences.  Don’t just use them to try and pass on what you learned to your children.  Think about how you wanted to be treated, and what you needed when that happened to you as a child.

2 – Acknowledge your child’s hurt and comfort them

While it’s still very raw for your child offer them some extra love and comfort, and acknowledge their feelings, and what you can see.  Give them some time to start healing before offering your own ideas or trying to problem-solve for them.

3 – Don’t criticise the other child

There are two very practical reasons for this.  Firstly, it’s not a great example to set.  Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s because children’s feelings can change so quickly that they could easily end up in a deep friendship with the other child again.  Remember most children’s friendship break-ups aren’t fixed by big discussions but by time, circumstances, or one or both of them growing up a little.

4 – Promote openness to other friendships. 

The end of an intense friendship can be a chance for room for new relationships.  This will take work in two ways.  One is thinking about the ways that your child could deepen existing friendships or find new ones.  The other is potentially helping your child to find the confidence to do this when their break-up experience is still fresh.

5 – Help them understand that friendship break-up doesn’t equal failure

Children need to understand that the end of friendships is part of life.  Help them to learn to value the positives in friendships that have come to an end, and to move on from them with confidence and good behaviour. 

6 – Pay attention to social media

It can be hard to disengage online from real-world friendships.  The temptation to continue to follow people can even be the hardest part of a break-up to deal with.  Helping your child through this needs the same skills and attention as the real-world aspects.  What won’t be helpful is simply suggesting that they come off of social media platforms altogether, as that will affect their wider friendships too.

The end of a friendship is something that pretty much all children will have to face, and that pretty much all parents have faced in their lifetimes.   Keeping lines of communication open, and using this experience, can help your children to learn and grow from these situations. 

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