Age-by-Age Friendship Guide
Ages 2-5: A few of the skills necessary for successful preschool friendships include knowing how to join a group, being able to engage in cooperative play and knowing how to resolve conflict using verbal skills. Often, younger children choose friends based primarily on outward appearances, thinking for example, “She's pretty, so she must be nice” or “He’s a good soccer player, so he must be fun.” Frequent and sometimes intense spats are also common for this age.

Grades 1-6: By elementary school, children begin to look at other youngsters’ inner qualities when choosing friends. Now they may consider whether a child is kind or has a good sense of humor in addition to appearances or proximity.

By age 10 or 11, children often demand more of their friendships, seeking confidants not just playmates. During these transitional years, intimacy becomes more important in peer relations, as “tweens” seek an ally to help navigate the uneasy transition into puberty.