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The buddy system

From the moment babies are born, they are learning how to interact with the people in their lives. Here’s a peek at how your child begins building special relationships.

0 through 2 years: Most children spend their first two years within a close circle of family and caregivers. This circle helps develop the child’s sense of how cherished he or she is, setting the stage for future friendships.

3 through 5 years: First friendships begin to grow—usually among children who are close in proximity. Daycare peers, neighbors and children of adult relations all are potential playmates. And because playtime is supervised, adults are responsible for training kids in the social skills that build healthy ties.

6 through 8 years: Children start learning the art of making—and keeping— friends. Their development at this stage focuses on learning how to manage conflicts, handle anger and to give and share freely.

9 through 12 years: Children are not only beginning to nurture established friendships but starting to choose friends according to shared interests and personality traits.