Bert and Ernie. Woody and Buzz. Batman and Robin. Jerry and George. Scooby and Shaggy. Garfield and Odie. Laverne and Shirley. Tom and Jerry. Wayne and Garth. Fred and Barney. Lucy and Ethel. Beavis and Butthead. Norm and Cliff. Phineas and Ferb. Beezus and Ramona…There’s no doubt that dynamic duos have been part of movies, television, and books for ages and lessons learned from friendships on the screen and in pages of books can teach kids many things about their in real life relationships.
We talk a lot about friendships in our house with Emily, our tween girl who is more than happy to share the 5ht grade playground drama with us at home and what we missed when we dropped her off at soccer practice. Witnessing full on meltdowns at the lunch table when places aren’t saved for besties, seeing classmates walk off in a huff because of playground spats at recess, and not understanding why teammates would rather sit out at practice than play, Emily shares what she notices as she works to understand the complicated nature of friendships and is ever thankful for the great drama-free relationship she has with her best friend.
At home Emily and her 8 year old brother can go from loving each other to getting on each other’s nerves to good old sibling rivalry in 60 seconds or less. But if an injustice is served by a peer on the playground a la the preschool bully incident of 2011, the other immediately jumps in to protect, reassure, and love them no matter what.
In a world filled with mean girls, bullying, and kids who say they’re your friend one minute and backstab the next, how can we teach our kids what it means to be a good friend and how to have healthy friendships? It’s not easy.
Start by listening
Chances are if something happened at school that’s bothering your child, they’ll tell you about it. And when they do share, listen. Give them your full attention and let them say what they have to say before you talk.
Ask clarifying questions
Once your child has said what’s on their mind, ask them some clarifying questions that will get them to think as they open up a bit more like:
- How did that make you feel?
- What do you think you might want to do differently next time?
- What does it mean to be a good friend?
- How do true friends take care of each other?
- What can you do to be a good friend?
If you need additional thought starters on how to spark a conversation around friendship with your kids, check out these fabulous tips from Common Sense Media.
Don’t dictate their friendships
Unless you have a preschooler or toddler, friendships that we arrange aren’t lasting ones that will endure the test of time. As hard as it is, we need to let our children find their own friends, even if the kids they gravitate towards aren’t ones we’d choose for them. Testing out friendships for compatibility is part of navigating that tricky world that’s an important aspect of a child’s social life. Take a deep breath and let it run it’s course unless you see true harm to your child coming from the friendship.
Provide examples of friendships
With so many duos featured on television and in the movies, there are some wonderful ones out there that show the benefits of having a true friend that sticks with you even through difficult moments. Great pairings can demonstrate the value of all kinds of friendships from a sibling bond, classmate, or favorite furry friend for all ages and might spark a conversation around friendship with your kids.
Here are 20 great titles to stream from Netflix that will help your family explore lessons about friendship from great duos.
For younger ages:
Bob and Larry: VeggieTales in the House
Bert and Ernie: Sesame Street: Elmo and Friends
Bo and Dezzy: Bo on the Go!
Justin and Olive: Justin Time
Tod and Copper: The Fox and the Hound 2
Clifford and Elizabeth: Clifford
For older kids:
Shaggy and Scooby: Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
Vada and Thomas: My Girl
Martin and Chris: Wild Kratts
Finn and Jake: Adventure Time
Mario and Luigi: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
Charlotte and Wilbur: Charlotte’s Web
Rory and Lorelai: Gilmore Girls
Schmidt and Nick: New Girl
Ted and Barney: How I Met Your Mother
Liz and Jack: 30 Rock
Walter and Jesse: Breaking Bad
Mulder and Scully: The X-Files
Wayne and Garth: Wayne’s World
As always, be sure to visit Common Sense Media to determine if these titles are age appropriate for your kids and happy watching!
This post was inspired by Netflix. No compensation was received but my family does enjoy a complimentary Netflix subscription and other items for my involvement as a Netflix Stream Team Member. Images courtesy of Netflix.