When kids hit the school years, friendships take on more meaning. High-quality friendships in kindergarten are especially vital to boys. In a new study from the University of Illinois, boys with at least one good friend in kindergarten had fewer behavior problems in first and third grade.
As friendships become more significant, so do clashes between friends. The elementary years are a prime time for bickering between otherwise close pals. Around age 6 or 7, kids start to develop trust-based friendships, says Charlotte-based Katie Overcash, a licensed clinical social worker who runs social skills groups for children. Conflicts can spring up when one friend feels that trust has been violated – when a friend spills a secret, for example.
Fights between friends are a normal part of growing up, says psychologist and author Dr. Frank J. Sileo, executive director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, N.J. Parents can help children patch up their rifts by acknowledging their children’s feelings, problem-solving different outcomes and modeling conflict-resolution.
Malia Jacobson is a freelance writer and mom of two.