When we think of friendship, many names can pop into our heads. Friendship is one of the most beautiful and fragile relationships we experience in life. Most of us have had friends, and are probably going to make new ones. However, are we really aware of how our friendships have helped us? Why friends are so important in our lives? And most importantly, what are the lessons in life that friendship teaches us?

When I was a child, my sister and I used to get together with the neighbour kids and create shows.

There would be numerous acts, we would sing, dance and even play instruments. We created tickets and offered refreshments for our parent audience members. Preparing the show involved inspiration, arguments, negotiation, patience, and occasional tears. For most adults, some of our fondest memories of childhood involve the times we spent playing with friends. In some sense, friendship is what childhood is all about. Friends are not only a source of fun; they also help children grow in meaningful ways, which will then make them become the adults they are now.

Friends are a very important part of life, at any age. They can affect our happiness, self-confidence and achievements. Friendships help develop independence and a sense of who we are as an individual – unique and separate to our family.

Here are some of the main things that friendship teaches us:

  • Helps develop Social Skills. There are many different definitions of social skills, but I think of them as the abilities necessary to get along with others. Social skills are about being able to flexibly adjust our behaviour to fit a particular situation and our personal needs and desires.
  • Teaches Sharing. Another key basis of friendship is mutual sharing between friends. Friendship usually gives us the first lesson in sharing. When we share our toys with a friend as a toddler, or our snacks in school, to office coffee time, even clothes before a party, everything seems better when shared with a friend! Sharing teaches us to be unselfish and generous.
  • Self- esteem. Friends help children begin to discover who they are outside their family. Friendships are based on common interests, so by choosing friends, children declare something about who they are: “My friends and I play basketball” or “We all like the Twilight Vampires!” When children have a friend who likes them, they will start to perceive themselves as capable while also feeling loved. Healthy self-esteem is like a child's armour against the challenges of the world. Kids who know their strengths and weaknesses and feel good about themselves have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures.
  • Problem Solving and Coping Strategies. A friend is an ally. Having a friend means it’s easier to cope with disappointments. Some kids cope with stressful or difficult situations better than others, and studies have indicated that friendship is an important variable. For example, children who have at least one reciprocal friend are less likely to become depressed. Friendships give children lots of opportunities to work out disagreements. This gives kids a chance to practice skills of persuasion, negotiation, compromise, acceptance, and forgiveness. Having a close friend is linked to improvements in knowledge of effective problem-solving strategies.
  • Empathy. Probably the most important benefit of friendship is that it encourages children to move beyond self-interest. Caring about a friend, or just wanting to play with a friend can help children control selfish impulses and encourage caring responses. To maintain a friendship, children need to learn to recognize and respond positively to their friend’s feelings. Friendships are fun and painful, exciting and frustrating, challenging, enjoyable, and unpredictable - just like life! Whether children are putting on a show, negotiating where to play tag, or deciding which videogame to play together, they are developing the skills they will use throughout their lives.

With all of this said, I encourage you to get out and make friends or to make time for the friends you have for the benefit of your health and well-being.


Rocío Fernández Cosme
Departamento Psicológico, Psicoterapéutico y Coaching
Rocío Fernández Cosme
Niños, adolescentes y adultos
Idiomas de trabajo: Español e inglés
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