Navigating friendships

Suddenly September is ending, and our children have been back at school for a while now.

It is at this time of year that children can need a little extra help to settle in with new friendships and routines.


Starting school for the first time

Reception children start their school life with such enthusiasm, but it is not uncommon for them to later start to think they might not want to go to school every day! This usually passes quite quickly and lots of positive encouragement can work wonders.

Remember that your child will pick up signals from you, so try not to reflect their worry back by looking anxious as well. Listen to them, reassure them and talk about all the exciting things to come: they will soon be going in with a smile. The school is always there to help and talk things through if you need this.

Getting on and falling out

In schools, we always do a bit of work at this time of year on friendships. Children will have been forming new friendships, and often a little way into the term there are a few wobbles. This is completely natural: children will fall out at times. This is how they begin to understand the give and take of relationships, how to communicate respectfully and how to develop empathy.

Give and take

School is an amazing place to learn that relationships are about balance. Each person cannot always have everything just as they want it.

Children will learn that not everyone always wants to play their games or follow their ideas. Reciprocal relationships require turn taking and communication. You can help your child by encouraging them to listen to others and use their ideas. It can really help children to learn to stop and talk things through when they are going wrong.

Sorting out disagreements is a vital life skill, and school offers many opportunities for children to experience this. As parents, we can find it hard to watch our offspring struggle with friendships, but we should remember that they are learning so much as they navigate their way through.


In order to have healthy relationships, we all need to have a little empathy. This can be hard for adults at times, so it is not surprising that it is tricky for children too. If we can help them to understand how their friends are feeling then they will develop a skill that will benefit them all their lives.

Help them to develop vocabulary around feelings, to name and describe them.

Encourage them to talk about their own feelings and express them in a respectful and confident way.

Encourage them to notice how other people may be feeling and show kindness and respect to them.

Sometimes it is hard for children to understand the feelings of others because everyone responds to things in different ways. Help them to accept that their friends may not have the same feelings as them – awareness of this is really important.

Talk to your child about your own feelings at a level that they can understand. This will encourage them to express their own feelings, and empathise with those of others.

Keep calm

When our children tell us they have fallen out with them at times, it can be worrying. Try to stay calm, listen and be empathetic yourself. It is part of school life and they will be learning so much through these ups and downs. You will know instinctively when to go and talk to the school if you think your child needs more support.

Being a good friend

It might be fun to explore the idea of what being a good friend to someone means. They could draw or write about this, or they could make a PowerPoint or poster with all their ideas.

Sue and Maryanne x

Tutor Your Child

Please contact us if you would like more information about how to help your child:

Tutor Your Child

(ABove: Sue and Maryanne from Tutor Your Child)

Share this article