A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
– Prov. 18:24
One of the most frightening things for children as they return to school in the fall is the fear of not having friends. It is this fear that often drives children to grasp at straws and do anything they can think of simply to have any kind of friend. We need to help children change this way of thinking. Instead of being afraid no one will like them and be friends with them, we need to help them think in terms of choosing the friends they like.
Children who feel secure in love at home are less likely to surrender values to make friends. It is the child who feels inadequate and unloved who will desperately do almost anything to have a friend. Most children do not reason far enough ahead to realize that approval of another person at the moment may cause trouble in the future. It must be pointed out to them. They need guidelines for selecting friends.
What are the qualities children should look for in friends? Here are some things children should think about:
• Does the person speak kindly of others? If they talk badly about others to you, they will probably talk badly about you to others.
• Is the person persuading you to do good things or suggesting things that may get you in trouble? If a person really likes you, they want what is best for you.
• Is the person part of a clique that shuts out some individuals? If so, that person may turn on you at some point.
• It may be best to look around and find someone who does not have a lot of friends. That person will appreciate your friendship so much that they will be more inclined to be faithful to you.
To find friends with these qualities, the child must display the same qualities to others. The Golden Rule applies perfectly to making friends.
It is best that a child have no friends than to have the wrong kind of friends. For children who have accepted Christ as Savior, the instructions are clear in the Bible that they are to lead others to know Christ, not give in to others in ways that are not pleasing to our Lord. Even very young children can lead others to Christ. Well-behaved children are a positive witness to their teachers as well as to other children around them.
It would be well for parents to sit down with their children and discuss the subject of making friends and living by Christ’s instructions at school. Unfortunately, many parents simply sit back and hope that their children will make the right friends rather than be proactive in guiding their children. Usually when we wait to see what happens, it is too late to do anything about it. It is better to prevent the bad and cultivate the desired behavior.