Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You've Got a Friend

photo: Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-3.0.
Summer, we hardly knew ye! Few school-age kids are thrilled to see September arrive, but at least they have the pleasure of reuniting with friends.

Being a friend is arguably the most important way kids to help other kids, and certainly the most common. Not every kid can start a peer-support charity, but every kid can be a friend.

Why does this matter? Friendships are "among the most important activities of life," writes Anita Gurian, PhD, in "Do Kids Need Friends?" for the NYU Child Study Center. Part of this is the support function most of us think of first -- friends help kids cope with troubling times and transitions such as family stress, starting adolescence & life's inevitable disappointments. But they also acclimate us at a young age to scary emotions like anger, aggression & rejection and provide practice in dealing with all these and more. One constant through the ages & stages is the issue of reciprocity: friendships are sustained when each friend both gives and receives. Think of how important that is in work, marriage & other relationships and it's easy to see why friendship is such a rich training ground for life.

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