Friends are an important part of growing up. You can tell them secrets, talk through problems and share your lunch with them.
But taking those first steps towards making a new friend can be stressful for children. If your son or daughter is a little shy, introducing themselves and finding someone to play with is even harder.
Quirky Kid Clinic's principal psychologist Kimberley O'Brien says it's important not to push young children into social situations if they're not ready, but to gently guide and encourage them instead. She thinks a good first step for tentative children is to start to play alongside someone, rather than ask to join in outright.
"A big statement like 'can I play?', I think that's too confronting," she says. "Really just wait until they feel comfortable before they break into a group. Walking in nervously and feeling uncomfortable is not a great way to make friends."
Teaching your child about sharing their interests and to be kind to others will help if they are feeling anxious that they won't make friends, and are skills O'Brien addresses in Quirky Kid Clinic's Best of Friends workshop.
"Just make sure they're as relaxed as they can possibly be because then they will attract other kids," she says.
"We teach that you become friends when you both like playing with each other, you don't have to like all the same things."
While the meaning of a "friend" changes as children grow, friendships are crucial to social development. O'Brien says social problems at a young age can often lead to isolation, anxiety and even depression as they enter adolescence.
"It's important for kids as early as two years to start having regular friendships because it builds their self-esteem and helps them to gain independence if they're not always moving around with their parents," she says.
"They'll develop other skills that are sometimes even easier to pick up from other kids, especially language skills and gross motor skills."
Individual play dates are the best way to encourage children in early primary school to develop a friendship outside the classroom, as larger groups can cause jealousy and competing for attention.
"It's important to start with one-on-one play dates if your child has poor social skills, doing an activity that your child excels in, teaching the other child something they're not so sure about so they become the leader in play," O'Brien says.
"A triad or even more becomes a whole lot more complicated and should only be tackled when they're older."
When kids find like-minded souls, the relationship can be intense and they will want to spend all their time together.
While O'Brien advocates parents be supportive of this desire, she advises against children having one "best friend" as it can lead to problems if the friend is away or the friendship breaks down.