We are social beings, we have a basic need for an interpersonal relationship with our fellow men, and the effect of these relationships is crucial in all spheres of our lives. Among all the relations that man has, we find friends there. What is friendship? Wikipedia gives us an element of the answer:
” Friendship is a reciprocal inclination between two people who do not belong to the same family. Ignace Lepp thinks, however, that “it happens (…) that a true friendship exists between brothers and sisters, but it does not seem to us exaggerated to say that it was born not because of their blood ties, but rather despite these “. Sometimes it’s a group friendship.
The interpersonal relationship of friendship is today defined as lasting sympathy between two or more people having no physical attraction or psychic.
It would arise in particular from the discovery of affinities or common points: the more common centers of interest are, the more likely the friendship is to become strong.
It often involves a sharing of common moral values. An interpersonal relationship of friendship can take different forms; mutual help, reciprocal listening, exchange of advice, support, admiration for others, sharing of leisure. “(Source: Wikipedia).
However, there seems to be a connection between friendship and the brain. Indeed, the brain needs friendship to work well. It is in this sense that this article is written. We will devote this article to the benefits of friendship on the brain, but more in connection with children. Because it seems that we lose sight of the importance of friendship for the child.
Our brain does not exist in isolation, but rather as a constantly interacting component in the theater of life. This theater is undeniably social. It begins with prenatal care, mother-child attachment, early experiences of childhood, and ends with the loneliness or social support that society and the family provide for old age.
1 – Social Brain and the Importance of Interpersonal Relationship
Brain functions involve a network of structures involved in exchanges with others – the social brain – which includes the upper temporal sulcus, the amygdala, the anterior insula, and the anterior cingulate cortex. This network contributes to the understanding of others, the anticipation of their reactions, empathy, and all phenomena of emotional resonance.
This social brain is manifested in a set of neuronal mechanisms that govern our thoughts and feelings in their interpersonal relationship with others. Thanks to these social neurons, we receive the influence of the feelings, thoughts of the intentions of others and conversely we influence others by our own feelings and thoughts, etc.
• the Brain Is Neurosocial
Since the discovery of mirror neurons and spindle neurons, we know that the brain is neurosocial.
The fusiform neuron works with greater speed than the others by guiding us in immediate social decisions. Mirror neurons have the capacity to receive the reflection of an act, a gesture, a feeling that we observe in someone else and to provoke in us the tendency to imitate, to participate in this act. They create external bridges between two or more brains in an interpersonal relationship between human beings.
• Go out with Four Friends Twice a Week It’s Good for You
A study conducted by Oxford University researcher Robin Dunbar shows men who interact in social groups are healthier, and recover more quickly while becoming more generous.
The researchers discovered that the man needs for his welfare to go out with his friends twice a week. While talking with friends on a daily basis is good, the real benefits to men’s health are seen when friends interact around an activity twice a week.
Despite these findings, two in five men report seeing their friends only once a week, one-third less than once a week. Men, in general, would devote one-fifth of their time to daily social interaction, through a network of 150 people on average. Most of the time his interactions are done through social networks and phones (SMS, calls).
The study would have found that one must meet in person to avoid that relations do not deteriorate.
When the group exceeds five people it is already a large number and it is shown that it is unlikely that fun situations take place to generate the production of endorphins necessary for well-being and happiness.
The study found that men usually have a circle of close friends with up to four members.
In any case, researchers do not recommend leaving the family aside but consider spending time with the familiar core reduces the stress levels that cause work and economic worries.
• the Volume and Degree of Connectivity of Certain Brain Regions Is Related to the Size of the Social Network
Mary Ann Noonan, a researcher at Oxford University (United Kingdom), presented the content of her work at the 2013 Neuroscience Congress, held in San Diego. They reveal that, like many other aspects of biology, size matters. And the more a person has a wide social network, the bigger ones become certain areas of his brain.
The idea is also to visually identify individuals with social skills, and those who, on the contrary, live a little on the margins of society and experience difficulties in integrating, such as people with autism or schizophrenia.
Through accurate imaging systems, one could estimate the importance of a circle of friends. And identify solitary subjects and “deviant” social behaviors.
The researchers recruited 18 volunteers to observe the structure of their brains. The guinea pigs also indicated the number and frequency of their social-friendly interactions in recent months, which was used to establish the level of sociability of each of them.
Some brain regions are wider and better connected in people with the largest social networks, compared to their more affluent counterparts. It is the parietal temporal junction, the anterior cingulate cortex or the rostral prefrontal cortex, areas involved in the ability to attribute mental states, thoughts, and intentions to its congeners.
The authors also found that these regions were all the better interconnected by nerve fibers as the participants had many friends. Like highways of nervous information.
• a Best Friend Helps Children Cope with Negative Experiences
According to a Canadian study published in the journal Developmental Psychology in 2012, a friendly environment brings real benefits, both morally and physically.
The study was conducted with children aged 10 years and 11 years and going through difficult times. The researchers observed that the child who is going through difficult times always benefits from the presence of his best friend. It is because self-esteem and cortisol levels, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, are highly dependent on the social context of the negative experience.
The excessive secretion of cortisol can also lead to important physiological changes such as immunosuppression or a deficit of osteogenesis. Similarly, a high level of stress can slow down the child’s development.
The physical and psychological reactions to negative experiences in childhood are reflected in adulthood. The identity of the human being is shaped around what he learns about himself at a young age. If he develops low self-esteem, his personal image will be directly affected.
2 – Children Need Friends and Learn to Be a Good Friend
Friends are important to help children develop emotionally and socially. Through friendship, they learn to set standards, weigh alternatives and make decisions.
Friendship has an important place in the development of the child. She is her personality and teaches her notions such as sharing, mutual aid or listening. Through his friends, the child learns to trust him.
Learning to make and keep friends is one of the main stages of preschool and protects children against the development of later psychological and school problems.
It can be noted that some children, from the age of 3-4, have difficulty in their interpersonal relationships with other children. Between: 5% and 10% of children experience chronic difficulties, including exclusion and social rejection or verbal or physical harassment of their peers.
Social development is about learning to make friends, to share, and to play with others. As a child develops socially, he learns to deal with his friends about the choices of the games, and he knows his turn on the swing will not be too long. He learns to control himself and manages distractions.
• Development of the Sense of Friendship in Children
In children, friendship is their first opening to the outside world. But it also offers him to see each other through the eyes of the other and therefore to get to know each other better, while grasping the social rules of life in society.
Help Children Create Friendships
In their early years, young children learn a lot about their interpersonal relationships with their peers – their peers.
Art of Forming Bonds of Friendship
For some, building friendships is a natural fit, while for others exercise requires effort.
Provide Opportunities to Meet Other Children
Playing with peers is the best way for a child to develop social skills and put them into practice. A child whose social skills are poorly developed can learn from others who have better abilities in this area. Mimic learning is in itself a good skill to acquire that helps to evolve socially. A child with a disability gains access to children without disabilities.
Promote the Acquisition of Communication Skills
A child who is able to communicate with peers has an easier time making friends. Already at one year old, many children use nonverbal language to communicate. As the child gets older, verbal communication becomes important.
• the Brain Is Programmed to Improve in Human Interpersonal Relationship
Affectivity is certainly inscribed in the material – certain brain circuits convey emotional and emotional information – but it is above all a deep and even vital need in the first months of development. It is thanks to his affection that the infant binds himself to those who take care of him by responding to their own tenderness.
This need will widen over time in a need to share the existence with others: we must live among others. What pushes towards others is probably natural; the “heart” animates the brain and certain brain areas are dedicated to it. In this dynamic of exchange, the brain benefits from a return effect: human interactions increase knowledge about oneself, others and the world, and it is likely that the brain grows by increasing its internal connections as ‘we increase social interactions.
A Brain Never Exists Alone, but Always in Resonance with Others
The human being is neuronally constituted to empathize with others and go to his rescue.
A Child Alone Does Not Speak
Even if neurologically, genetically, he has all he needs to speak, if there is no one else who speaks around him, he will not speak. Human brains produce words around the child who, little by little, is stimulated by these words. Until the day when, towards the age of ten or twelve months, he will point his finger at a signifying object, he calls out to the “figure of attachment” (his mother, his father, the person who takes care of him) which is his security base. All the babies are pointing, happy to share their brains with that of the referring person.
Importance of Early Interpersonal Relationship in the Life of the Child
The child is built in his interpersonal relationship to the other. And the more this relationship is multiple, the more it will have elements at its disposal to open.
The first friends of the children, when they are still babies, will be the stuffed animals or another toy. He will want to be with his friend, take him and play with him. But time passes, and the baby will feel the need to not only share his experience with his mom, his dad, or with his brothers (if he has any). He will love being, though unconsciously, with other equals.
Growing up, the child will want to decline the link of socialization in different ways. To achieve this, the time of shared intimacy of the first months of life plays a key role. The privileged interpersonal relationship with the mother, the father or the maternal assistant is necessary and constitutive of its development. The more intense and lasting the link created with a reference person, the more it will allow the child to weave multiple links.
3 – Steps of Friendship in Babies and Children
Already very young, the child puts in a place privileged links with his entourage, which will be transformed into links of socialization.
In the first months of life, the baby perceives the world around him very early. He cannot survive without someone by his side who will take care of him. He already makes the distinction between himself and his human environment including his mother, even if he does not have a very precise idea.
A lot of work has been done around the observation of babies in community living environments such as the nursery. They point out that in their first months, the toddler shows an interest in others and makes choices, not only of gender (girl or boy), but also of personality and character. Some children prefer to go to a toddler who moves a lot, while others will prefer the presence of a calmer child. Some spontaneously go to a charming child who smiles, others to a child more inhibited. And it gets more precise when you grow up.
Around the Age of 2-3
The child realizes the presence of a third protagonist in the interpersonal relationship he/she has with the other. In his process of socialization, the toddler is very quickly able to go towards one or the other, preferentially.
The child reaches a new stage in socialization with the entry to the nursery school. Between the two, the nursery may have opened the child to a group of 5 or 6 children. At school, he is now confronted with a large social group, about twenty peers, which pushes him to assert himself and therefore to grow. It is also at this time that the toddler enters the age of no. “No, I do not want to wear that coat … No, I do not want to give you that …” It testifies to his will to oppose the other so as not to be confused with him and to be able to say “I” explicitly. Its social identity is thus built, little by little.
Around 8/12 Years
we can talk about first friendships. The complicity born between children at this age leaves traces for the whole life, so strong are the feelings and the exclusive passions.
Buddies and invented secret codes, rituals between them. The groups are formed around the same taste for a game, an extracurricular activity in common. Even though mimicry and identification with the other are great at 8, the interpersonal relationship can show the child his difference and prove to him that he is unique.
Friendship brings together children of the same sex, unlike kindergarten. The friend serves as idealized double: one looks at oneself in the other and this mirror-like construction gradually gives the guts enough to exist by oneself.
• Adolescence Is Undoubtedly the Epoch of Friendship
In adolescence and early adulthood, the development of a friendly interpersonal relationship is essential and even essential to human and emotional development. It is like sap that the tree would need to grow and solidify.
It is thanks to his first classmates that the child stands out from his parents and broadens his first horizons. Second, friendship with people of the same sex is essential to support during the first years of adolescence when physical and psychological changes occur. We do not always dare and we do not always want to tell our parents everything we feel. It is valuable to have a confidante in your image to reassure and encourage you.
Throughout adolescence, friendships provide deep emotional support at an age when the interpersonal relationship with parents can be tenser and less affectionate. Friends can provide attention, availability, service, listening, giving gifts, and vice versa. With time, the diversity of friendships also helps to widen the centers of interest, the opinions, in short, to forge the personality.
Dear parents, you will agree with me so far that friendship is very important from an early age. That said, you must allow your children to have friendships. However, it would be wise and wise of you as part of your parenting responsibilities to ensure that your children do not become friends with harmful friendships. In this case, you are called to play roles relating to the social relations (friendly) of your children. The following lines tell us more…
4 – Role of Parents
Parents have a vital role in learning but cannot force things or be intrusive in the relational life of their children. They must listen to him, be present, show him that they are at his side and support him in all situations. Parents are the first examples that children have in front of them. Friendship relationships between adults show children that being friends, it happens to all ages and that these are beautiful feelings that are perpetuated throughout life. It is also the experience of the social bond and of certain behavior that they see in the links woven by their parents with third parties.
* Friendship Is Essential in Life.
It is important to prepare your children to be able to make friends, to be able to engage in an interpersonal relationship without fear of being abandoned. In parallel, they must be allowed to find their way of investing in friendship (many friends, few friends or two friends and no friends, etc.).
* Friendship Does Not Get Forcing.
We must let our children build their friendships in their own way and according to their affinities.
* Ensure the Balance of Their Interpersonal Relationship.
We must not interfere with their friendly choices but we must ensure the quality of their relations: they are neither tyrants, nor submissive, nor victims. If this happens, do not demand that it stop authoritatively, it is important to explain what you feel about these behaviors so that the child can move forward.
* Give them a Positive Image of Friendship.
For children to have friends, they need to be open-minded to want to reach out to others and share with other backgrounds and cultures. They will be sociable if their parents are.
* the Lack of Friends Is Disturbing.
One must be concerned about a lack of friends at any age, whatever the reasons, and encourage friendship. If this does not work out despite advice and encouragement, psychological help can help to understand what is wrong.
* the Brothers and Sisters Are Not Friends.
It is not because a child has brothers and sisters that he can do without friends. A friendly interpersonal relationship is very different from a fraternal interpersonal relationship.
* Take Seriously the Heartbreaks of Friendship.
Children must be comforted and mentored, but they must not seek to preserve them from these punishments, they teach them to differentiate between true and false friendship and to find the limits of what the other person can hear without being hurt.
* Children Are Friends in Their Own Way.
The adult conception of friendship cannot be transposed: adults conceive friendship in the long term while that of children is more versatile.