Portrait of Two Friends by Italian artist Pontormo, c. Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people.
Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of such bonds. The understanding of friendship in children tends to be more heavily focused on areas such as common activities, physical proximity, and shared expectations.
These friendships provide opportunity for playing and practicing self-regulation. Most children tend to describe friendship in terms of things like sharing, and children are more likely to share with someone they consider to be a friend. As children mature, they become less individualized and are more aware of others. They gain the ability to empathize with their friends, and enjoy playing in groups. They also experience peer rejection as they move through the middle childhood years.
Potential benefits of friendship include the opportunity to learn about empathy and problem solving. Coaching from parents can be useful in helping children to make friends. In adolescence, friendships become “more giving, sharing, frank, supportive, and spontaneous. Adolescents tend to seek out peers who can provide such qualities in a reciprocal relationship, and to avoid peers whose problematic behavior suggest they may not be able to satisfy these needs.