Four Kinds of Friends

friendship-grey-children-image-31000My son came home from camp the other day complaining about how one of his friends was mean.

I asked him, “How was he mean?”

“Well he asked me if I knew three players on Michigan (basketball team) and when I said no he laughed at me, and then he wouldn’t play with me. And that makes him the meanest person in the world.”

“What happened next?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

I don’t know this boy, but I have taught enough children to know that a little bit of arcane knowledge can go a long way towards making someone feel superior. On that particular day, at that particular time this boy was basing his friendship on whether or not his potential playmate knew what he was talking about. Experiences like this can be confusing to children. I did my best to explain the above to my son and told him that the best thing to do is just ignore it if it happens again.

Then I told him about the four kinds of people that he is bound to run into over and over again for the rest of his life:

  1.  There will be people you like and get along with wonderfully. There might be the odd disagreement between the two of you, but it’s easy enough to make up with this kind of person because you really like each other.
  2. There will be those kinds of people that you are not really friends with, but that you will say “hi” to everyday, or who will be on your soccer team or something and who you will respect and they will respect you. You will not become good friends with these people; they will be just nice people that you know.
  3. There will be those kinds of people who play with you one day and the next day, for whatever reason, they will act like they have no idea who you are. They can be fun to play with, but they can also be manipulative. They will say things like – “if you are really my friend you will have pizza at lunch today.” “If you are really my friend you won’t play with Owen at recess today.”
  4. And there will be those people who you will never get along with no matter how hard you try. It’s best just to leave these kinds of people alone. Be polite and friendly if you need to talk to them, but other than that just go on your separate ways.

I’m not sure what category this boy would fit in yet, I always like to give children a second chance. But at least my son can feel a little more secure knowing that he doesn’t have to be best friends with everyone at the same time.

As adults we often forget how tricky the world of friendship can be. It’s easy to assume that your child knows how to navigate the playground, but as they grow older relationships and connections become more complicated. These social complexities can be even more difficult to navigate for children who are DHH. Take time to explain to your child the basics of relationships and how to make and maintain friendships, these skills do not come naturally to all children.

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