National Friendship Day was originally founded by Hallmark in 1919. It was intended to be a day for people to celebrate their friendships by sending each other cards. By 1940, the market had dried up and the holiday fizzled. It was first proposed in Paraguay in 1958. In 1998, Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. In April 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations officially recognized July 30th as International Friendship Day, although most countries celebrate it on the first Sunday in August. This year, it will be celebrated on Sunday, August 1st. The exchange of small gifts like flowers, cards, and wristbands is a popular custom in some countries.
Studies have shown that friends are a great form of stress relief. When an adult has healthy friendships, he or she is less likely to succumb to illness and disease, less likely to become seriously depressed, more likely to heal faster when he or she gets sick. A true friend is someone you can be yourself around, be ready to listen when you have a problem, offer constructive criticism, and help you reach your goals.
However, some children have trouble making friends. Perhaps you have seen a child in your classroom or your own child struggle to make friends. Some children seem to make friends easily, while others are slower to warm up to others. Research shows that in children, friendships boost children’s social-emotional learning, and children are less likely to be excluded and bullied. But friendships don’t just happen. Some children need help learning social competence and friendship skills, such as sharing, taking turns, negotiating, and cooperation.
In order to help a child make friends, Denise Salin, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, suggests giving children lots of unstructured time to play. This is important because this can help children develop the social skills they need to help them socialize. Teachers can also look for and read books that depict friendships and discuss the characters, the feelings, and the setting to help them learn how to be a good friend. Teachers can also model behavior for children by being kind to others, opening the door for someone, hugging someone you care about, and by showing empathy. “By giving your child the skills he needs to be confident and compassionate, you increase the likelihood that friends will eagerly come into his life. And friends will give his life a richness and happiness he will always treasure,” Salin says.