Friends are so important for kids’ growth, but how can they make some? As parent you can use playtime as an occasion to encourage cooperation and empathy. Let us see how kids interact and what you can do to help.

First, children are not the same, some as young as three, regularly do activities with others. They will be able to have a clear idea of who their friends are. Moreover, some kids seem to make friends very easily, others can find this hard, instead, so that they might need more time.

As a parent, pay attention to their attitudes as well as character and respect them without being too involved. At the same time, you can help kids get out of their shell, overcome shyness and bond relationships with their peers. You know, some of these new friends, could be their best friends forever!

How do kids make friends?

Children need to learn friendship skills and, as they play together, they build some abilities that will help them with friendships now and in the future, such as cooperating, sharing, taking turns, listening to others, seeing other points of view, and managing disagreements. Skills like these become so important when children have a role-play session. Playing together, indeed, they learn that not everyone can play the same way, so they must find a compromise and decide which role for each member of the group.

When this happens, be discreet and observe. The way your children respond to other children tells a lot about their temperament and can help you understand how to encourage them to improve their weaknesses or correct their errors.

Help children learn about being a good friend

Let us assume that you observed kids playing and seen that yours tends to be a little bossy, so you want to help them learn about being a good friend.

When these situations happen, you can explain what is going on and encourage positive behaviors. For example, you may say, “That was a great idea to listen to each other before you decided what to play.”

Help children make friends through play

Giving your child the chance to play with other children can help your children develop friendships. If your kids are a little shy, a good idea is to start with playdates with one or two friends rather than a large group.

Give your child and their friends different options for play

Here are some ideas for helping your child make friends during play:

To encourage collaboration and the ability to find a compromise, give children more than one option for play and praise them when they decide on something together, saying for example, “Very good Nice teamwork, guys!”

For the shyest kids, can be reassuring to have you close, when they do not know the other kids well, so stay nearby until your child gets more confident.

Set a time limit for the playdate. Children tend to be less collaborative when they get tired, so setting a time limit for their playdate with friends can be a good idea.

Well, now you know more about helping kids to make new friends and join a group, now let’s see which toys encourage cooperation and team work. We selected some special Hape toys which are designed specifically to let children play together, in a safe and educational way.

Outdoor toys

When children are outside, they become the greatest and most curious explorers! What about organizing a treasure hunt?

Give them the right tools to explore! A hand-powered flashlight, compass set, butterfly net,  Nature Detective set, hide and seek telescope  and an adjustable telescope is the complete kit for a group of little explorers! As each kid has their own tool, they all come together become a team, explore, and cooperate to reach a common goal!

All these toys are made by Hape using bamboo and sustainable materials. These are perfect for kids who want to have fun together outside!

Steam toys

Steam toys are the best to help kids play together, because they create a perfect setting that is optimized when children collaborate with each other to build something they often cannot easily create on their own.

Any suggestions?

With Geodesic structures, for example, kids can build a geodesic dome and a truss bridge and look how they work together! What about building the tallest tower? They can project and build it together with Hape Multi-Tower Kit!

Role Play toys

As we wrote before, role play toys are a very powerful way children learn cooperation and improve social skills. That is why Hape created a huge variety of role play toys which can help kids have fun together and build new friendships. They can practice their imagination playing in Kitchen, with a lot of sets that promote healthy food. If they prefer, children can choose role play toys set in a medical center, a city fire station, or in a builder lab.

One of our favorite toys for role play is the amazing Four-Stage Rocket Ship complete with the planetary lander, which is the best for little space explorers!

Children want to learn everything, and they do by play. When we look at them, cooperating and working so hard together to reach the same goal, they remind us that we also can learn a lot from them. Luckily our children are always ready to teach us something new and precious!

Who wants to learn by playing with us?