5 Traits of a Good Friend (and How to Help Kids Develop Them)

As a mom of both young kids and older ones, I’ve learned how important it is for my children to find good friends.

It’s been said that we are most like the five people with whom we spend the most time.. This is especially true for our kids. Kids pick up characteristics they see. They repeat what they hear.

If we want our kids to seek out positive qualities in friends, they also need to possess them. So, what character qualities are important to seek out and help grow in our kids?

Here are five traits of a good friend:

1. Truthfulness:

It’s important for our kids to know that they can trust what their friends say is true. Nothing hurts as much as knowing you’ve been lied to. We can teach our children to look for friends who always tell the truth. We can also teach our kids to be truth-tellers, and that lying is a sin. One way to do this is to remind them that being truthful or untruthful reflects their character. “If you tell a lie about the small things how can I — or a friend — believe you in the big things?” Also, let’s be sure to praise our kids when we catch them telling the truth. Remember that what is praised is repeated.

2. Kindness:

All of us like to be treated with kindness. Kindness means treating people with respect and putting another person’s needs before your own. Kind friends make everything easier — from play to simple conversations. We can teach our kids to be kind to others throughout the day, from siblings to the elder they may meet at the grocery store. Let’s point out to our children how much others appreciate when we are kind. To encourage positive behavior, praise how our child brings smiles to others’ faces.

3. Understanding differences:

No two people are alike, and friends need to know that different doesn’t mean bad. Friendship is not about picking friends who are the same as us, but learning to understand and appreciate the differences of others. We must find ways to help our children share our family and cultural backgrounds and traditions with their friends, and invite their friends to do the same. The more our children learn to appreciate other people, the better prepared they will be to build all types of friendships throughout their lives.

4. Joy:

No one likes to be around grumpy people, yet it’s hard to have a good attitude all the time. There will be times when our children’s friends may not have a good attitude. There are times all of us struggle with anger, frustration or disappointment, but in general we should look for friends who — for the most part — have an attitude that is filled with joy. We also need to model a joyful attitude for our kids. They model what they see. Finally, we can encourage good attitudes by telling our children how much we appreciate joyful attitudes. Reward like high-fives or hugs when we see them brightening up another person’s day with joy are a fun bonus!

5. Sharing:

It’s important to share what we have with each other. Our children can be taught to thank their friends when their friends share with them. Also, they can learn  to look for opportunities to share with others. Children should not be expected to share every special toy or book they have. Instead, we parents can work with them to pick out toys or books that they’ll be eager to share.

One great book to read with friends is God Bless My Friends by Hannah Hall and Steve Whitlow. This adorable book teaches kids to appreciate their friends, showing how even our favorite friends are different than them. It’s a great book for kids to share together, taking note of what they appreciate most about the special friends in their lives.

Overall, the friends our children choose will impact them for the rest of their lives. And by seeking out these five traits — and developing them — our child’s friendships will be off to a good start!

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Your Turn

What lessons in friendship have you learned during your life? What advice would you give children in seeking out friends? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


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Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A bestselling author, Tricia has published more than fifty books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR.

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