Remember those good old days when your biggest concern was to find the most elusive hiding spot to avoid discovery while playing your beloved childhood game, hide-and-seek? While you may fondly remember these games with close friends as being great fun at the time, it turns out that these play times with friends can also lead to better physical health in adulthood.
This shouldn’t be shocking news. Relationships have long been considered a building block for a happy, fulfilling life. A number of past studies have even shown how friendships, especially preschool friendships, can foster long-term mental and emotional well-being and help develop strong social and emotional skills (such as empathy, rules of conversation etc.), self-esteem, a sense of community, as well as the ability to cope with stressful situations. Likewise, a new study published in Psychological Science studied a large group of men starting in 1987 and found that those men who spent more time with friends during their childhood had lower blood pressure and lesser chances of being obese in their adult years.
This means that close friendships and bonds that are developed in our formative years can be crucial for our overall and life-long well-being. As parents, it therefore may be useful to focus on cultivating strong friendships and relationships for our children, including providing them with opportunities to meet new friends as well as modelling positive interpersonal skills, such as using respectful language, practicing good listening skills, and sharing. Building quality relationships at a young age can be a great starting point for building and maintaining healthy bonds later in life and for living a healthier, enriched life as a result.
“Lifelong benefits of childhood friends (In Brief)” (2018). Retrieved from www.apa.org.
Derhally, L. A. (2016). The importance of childhood friendships, and how to nurture them. Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com.