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Publication #FAR2001

The Importance of Friendships to Children1

Millie Ferrer-Chancy2

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Friends are vital to a child's healthy development. Research has found that children who lack friends can suffer from emotional and mental difficulties later in life. Friends provide children with more than just fun playmates. Friendships help children learn many social skills, such as how to communicate, cooperate, solve problems, control their emotions, and respond to the emotions of others. Friends also help children develop the ability to think through and negotiate different situations. Having friends even affects a child's school performance, as children tend to have better attitudes about school and learning when they have friends there.

Children, however, need parents who take an active role in preparing them to interact successfully with their peers. One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to develop loving, accepting, and respectful relationships with them. These warm relationships set the stage for all future relationships, help children develop the trust and self-confidence necessary to go out and meet others, and provide a firm foundation on which they can develop social skills.

Parents also teach their children social skills by being good role models. Children learn from how their parents interact with other people. As a parent, you cannot make friends for your children, but your love, patience, and support can make it possible for them to meet new people and make friends on their own. Friendships help children grow and develop the self-confidence and social skills that they'll need as adults.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Asher, S., and Williams, G. (1996). Children without friends, parts 1-4. Retrieved November 18, 2002, from

Brooks, J. (1999). The process of parenting (5th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co.

Fabes, R., and Martin, C. (2001). Exploring development through childhood. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ferrer, M. (2003). Working with school-age children: Promoting friendship (FCS2206). Gainesville: Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Retrieved October 19, 2007 from

Ford Arkin, C. (1997). Children's friendships. The Ohio State University Extension Service. [Delinked October 18, 2012]

Gottman, P. (1997). Raising the emotionally intelligent child. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Hamner, T., and Turner, P. (2001). Parenting in contemporary society (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.



This document is FAR2001, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 152 and published January 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Millie Ferrer-Chancy, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.