It is during the pre-school years that a child’s ability to be friendly with other people is first developed. He will be able to grow up into an adult who can make friends and get along with others i£, during these early years, he is given opportunities to develop feelings of security within himself and to have successful, happy contacts with other children and with grownups. This is where he learns to get along with others.
The little baby is entirely self-centered. He knows when he feels comfortable, and he will cry when he is uncomfortable until somebody takes care of him. If his mother takes care of his needs in a kindly, gentle way and also gives affection and the comfort of cuddling to the tiny child, he begins to respond to her and to love her. During the baby’s first two years his mother is the one to whom he turns the most often. It is really through his relationship with his mother at this time that the little child begins to learn how to like other people. During his first two years his father, his brothers and sisters, and his grandparents, or others who see him often, are important too, as he becomes aware that there are other people in his world besides himself and his mother. If these people are kind and happy, if daddy plays with him and cuddles him and talks to him, he senses friendship. It is not long before the baby will respond with happy coos and smiles when people talk to him or play with him.
Toward the end of his second year other children enter his life, not just as something to be looked at curiously or poked with a finger, but as playmates. He does not yet quite know what to do with these other children, but he likes them and enjoys playing near them. Through the rest of his pre-school years he will be learning how to play and how to get along with other youngsters. This is important, for by the time he is six he must be ready to enter into the life of a group of children on the playground and in the schoolroom. If his experiences with other children are happy, successful ones, he will have taken another big step toward becoming a friendly adult who can work and live with others. If, on the other hand, his first experiences with other children are too difficult for him, i£ he is constantly being hurt or frightened by them, if he does not learn to play easily and well with them, he may find it harder to learn how to be a friendly person as he grows up.
Friendly parents make friendly children
The example that parents set is important in helping a child to be friendly with other people. If his parents like people and are kindly and friendly toward their neighbors, a little child has a better chance of learning to be friendly too. If mother and father are prejudiced, critical, or unfriendly toward others, they will be copied by their children, for children imitate attitudes as well as actions. Parents can help their children make friends, even when they are little, by welcoming the other children of the neighborhood to their house and yard. (Continue below to page 2)