boy-girl friendships

How to Help Kids Build Boy-Girl Friendships

Boy-girl friendships teach kids what a healthy relationship looks like. Even if you’re child isn’t close to dating, it’s important to help them know how to interact with the opposite sex.

Heather Johnson shares how you can help your children foster boy-girl friendships.


Building Boy-Girl Friendships

Why do these relationships matter? They build confidence emotional intelligence, we are more comfortable in our day to day interactions, patterns for latter life.  As parents, how do we help our kids with these relationships?

Here are five ways to help your children foster boy-girl relationships.

1. Don’t joke (be positive and talk admiration)

You don’t want to tease your kids. This is especially common when our kids are young. We say things like “oh how cute, they want to hold hands,” or we “pre-arrange” their marriage when they’re four years old. These things can make our kids embarrassed and uncomfortable. They don’t know the words to explain those feelings, but we’re already teaching them to shy away because it doesn’t feel good when you joke. Instead of joking, turn to admiration. If you want to point out that your child likes to play with another child, talk about how they admire one another. This goes for teenagers too. Instead poking fun, point out that you’ve noticed how much they admire the other person. Then your child is more willing to open up and talk about what they enjoy about them.

2. Model healthy relationships ourselves

Especially as women, we tend to get in groups and talk, maybe even complain, about our relationships. If kids are hearing negative things about our relationships, then why would the want them? If complaint is how kids think they should handle a relationship, they’re going to mimic that. We just need to be careful about how we talk about our marriages, because we don’t know who is listening.

3. Teach them friendship skills

Teaching kids about friendship will give them a good foundation. We should help them learn that good friends have empathy, they don’t judge, they listen more than they talk, etc. They should know friendship is 24/7. Just because they get in a fight in 2nd grade, doesn’t mean their friendship is over forever.

4. Create opportunity

When kids are very young, around 2-5, they’re in preschool, they have play dates, and this helps create opportunity to have boy-girl friendships. We always want to create opportunities where boys and girls are together and the environment is safe. And instead of separating them, see how they can work together and recognize their differences as strengths. We need to help cultivate that because there are times where boys and girls avoid each other because “cooties.”

5. Explain what is appropriate and healthy

As soon as kids are talking to you, teach them what is appropriate. When they’re little it’s simply where their hands do and don’t go and what is appropriate in terms of physical touch. This can be taught by example by making sure we show affection in healthy ways. It’s also walking kids through the feelings they might have and what is appropriate as they get older. Have conversations that let kids know what is appropriate when interacting with the opposite sex.

Heather Johnson M.S. completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Brigham Young University, and has been an adjunct faculty member for the last 15 years. She teaches students the principles behind successful families and the importance of families spending time together.

With a desire to help beyond the classroom, Heather is a Marriage and Relationship Coach where she helps couples and families learn to love, forgive, and communicate. She loves watching individuals find confidence and joy in marriage and parenting.

Heather’s favorite place to be is next to her husband. Married for 16 years, her greatest joy comes from being a wife, and mother to their 6 children (ages 15 to 2 years). Marriage and motherhood have been her most humbling adventure.

To contact Heather for counseling, email, or visit

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