Importance of friends at this age

For the children in first grade, anyone who plays with them is a close friend. As they mature, they start to relate to their close friends deeply.1

Friends and peers are important in all stages of the child’s life. The benefits of friendship are well documented. It is associated with social, emotional and cognitive growth. 2,3

Be realistic about your child’s unique personality and temperament. Understand how much social interaction they seek. Some children may have dozens of casual friends while some shy ones make very few friends.4

Children should be encouraged to make friends. To have friends is viewed as an important indicator for social participation.2

Childhood friendship has a positive impact on mental health. Having at least one friend early in life can protect the child from psychological complaints in young adulthood.3

Having friends in the classroom or at play gives a feeling of compassion and emotional support to the child. It enables the child to cope up with challenges.2

To have friends has a protective effect. It serves as a buffer against negative influences, especially in the case of low-performing students or students with special needs.2

To have friends is not all roses. Conflicts or physical aggression may disrupt the flow of play but will teach them to handle it.5

Learning from friends 1-5

  • Helps in social, emotional, psychological, physical and intellectual development

  • Develops interactional and reciprocal abilities

  • Improves behavioural skills

  • Facilitates the growth of early peer skills

  • Children learn to get over conflicts and arguments through negotiations and adjustments.

Early friendships usually do not carry the same emotional significance as to make later friendships. But they provide children with their earliest lessons about how to establish and maintain relationships.5


  1. Book titled ‘Friends Forever: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make and Keep Good Friends’ By Fred Frankel; John Wiley & Sons, 02-Aug-2010.
  2. Sip Jan Pijl, Marloes Koster, Anne Hannink, Anna Stratingh. Friends in the classroom: a comparison between two methods for the assessment of students’ friendship networks. Soc Psychol Educ (2011) 14:475–488
  3. Sakyi KS, Surkan PJ, Fombonne E, et al. Childhood friendships and psychological difficulties in young adulthood: an 18-year follow-up study. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015;24(7):815–826.
  4. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic; 8 Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends in School; November 4, 2016 / Pediatrics,
  5. National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development; Shonkoff JP, Phillips DA, editors. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000. 7, Making Friends and Getting Along with Peers. Available from: