What a great opportunity to make new friends at the beginning of a new year. Friendships add to the fullness of life. They bring us happiness, comfort and joy, which have a powerful impact on our quality of life. Friends help us feel good about ourselves and help us as we adapt to changes. Friendships help us build self-confidence.
For our growing children friendships are pivotal in the development of their social and emotional skills. Friendships help students learn about themselves and help them develop their own identity and sense of belonging. Learning friendship skills; such as sharing, taking turns, cooperating, listening to others, managing disagreement and negotiating different ways of thinking are all part of having friends.
At Cedars we have implemented a classroom program to support our students in developing these lifelong social and emotional skills. The program is called ‘Second Step’; a program that helps our students to know what a good friend is and guides them in developing their friendships. They learn about trust, respect, kindness, honesty and consideration for others which are some of the character traits that are essential to cultivating positive friendships. During their class discussions they explore what a good friend is and learn how to develop these skills in themselves as well as recognise them in others.
Making and developing friends is a skill for life and having conversations with our children about their friendships will help make it easier. Our students learn that friendships are usually established between people who have the same interests. However, as our children grow their interests can change and they may find they no longer share the same interests with their friends, so encouraging them to seek out new friends who share common interests is a positive step.
Friendships are also full of ups and downs. Sometimes you might be faced with your child falling out with their friend so helping them understand and manage these disagreements as a natural part of life is an opportunity to guide them through their growing journey. If your child has had a falling out with a friend take some time to have a conversation with them, talk to them about how they feel and how their friend might be feeling. Help them gently navigate sensitive and hurt feelings about what has happened and come up with some solutions together. This helps them see that the problem can be solved. Supporting them in this way helps them develop an essential tool for life and build resilience.
Friendships will always be a lifelong journey. Here are some tips to help our children learn and grow.
- learn to cooperate
- take turns and be fair
- listen to others
- show empathy be sympathetic to the feelings of others
- manage conflict by problem solving
Elbert Hubbard an American author said:
‘In order to have friends, you must first be one.’