Q: My six-year-old son recently “broke up” with his best friend. He’s taking the separation quite hard. How can I help him through this?
A: Often children your son’s age do not yet have the skills to mend rifts that occur in peer relationships, so their outlook can seem particularly bleak when things go awry. Parents may need to get involved to put things right.
Sit down with your son and get as clear a picture as possible of what happened. Then you could call the parents of your son’s best friend and discuss the situation with them. They may also need to have a private conversation with their child to get his side of the story. When the adults feel they understand what happened and have devised a way to repair the situation, then both children and parents could meet to talk about it.
Keep in mind that six-year-olds are not good at admitting when they’ve made mistakes and are only beginning to see things from another person’s point of view. Parents are crucial role models for kids, teaching them how to respect other people’s feelings and resolve conflicts peacefully.
Occasionally friendships do end, whether it’s because the friends have grown apart or one friend has done something the other considers unforgivable. If that’s the case here, you’ll need to help your son accept this fact and move on.