At nearly 8, my daughter is getting to that age where friends and BFFs are becoming increasingly important, but also posing challenges.
I have no concerns academically about her at school, but the biggest issue at the moment seems to be around friendships and playground fall-outs. I know it's fairly common, especially amongst girls of this age, but every day there are tales of arguments, people being excluded from groups and games, upset over fallings-out and sometimes tears. It has kept her awake at night where she's battled internally about differences of opinion, and she's very sensitive to classmates who are not included in playground activities, or those who dominate the group.
We've spent quite a long time talking openly and honestly about these issues over half term, she's agreed on occasion she should have handled situations differently, and we have come up with some strategies.
She's offered to invite a new child round for tea as she's worried she doesn't have many friends having only just moved to the area.
She's going to make an effort to make sure this child is included in her group's games.
We've talked about how to handle a child who is very domineering in the group, always wanting her own way.
We've discussed how mean words can hurt and how they make people feel, and encouraged her to use empathy.
As she grows older, her friendships may change. She may gain a whole new bunch of friends when she starts her next school. Friendships will come under strain when she or they discover 'love' and she'll need to learn how to maintain healthy friendships even when she has other interests.
My good friend, blogger and psychotherapist Becky Goddard-Hill has just launched a great new tool together with Emotionally Healthy Kids, to help children understand how to develop healthy friendships.
The FINK conversation cards prompt discussions that encourage children to look at the friendships they currently have and how well they are working, how to make new friendships and how to solve problems within friendships. The questions are designed to make them think deeply about the value of friendship.
A good network of friends is such an important thing at any age, and anything that can help that can only be good. Whether these are used at home, in PSHE lessons at school, in youth groups and extra-curricular clubs or in therapy sessions, they can really make a difference to your child's wellbeing now, and for the future.
The Healthy Friendship cards can be purchased online and are currently priced at £13.50 which I think is a really worthwhile investment.