Don’t Bully, Be Friendly

Five students walk towards the stairs in front of their school building, all wearing backpacks. The two girls in the back are chatting with each other.

The first few weeks of school have come and gone, and you may have had conversations about the classmates your children have interacted with whether playing at recess, sharing the lunch table or perhaps in reading circles. As your children spend more time away from home, they will engage with children who may or may not have positive social skills. Last week we explored the issue of the school bully. The way in which some children respond to situations and exert their personal power over others in their quest to get their own way. The bully may use strategies that cause others to be fearful or even sad.

Learning to make friends is one of those life skills that all of us go through from time to time. Building relationships that last takes patience, understanding and a good amount of effort! As young people meet new friends, they are challenged to communicate positively and make a good first impression. Children interested in building relationships could consider the following friendship tips:

  • Be accepting – before trying to change your friends, try first accepting them for who they are
  • Listen to your friends
  • Ask your friends questions about themselves and don’t make the focus of the conversation just on you
  • Be honest with your friend
  • If you are working together on a project, be helpful and do your part
  • Greet new people first. Don’t wait for someone to greet you, take the initiative and greet others, making them feel welcome and accepted

As parents, in order to find out what is going on at school, may I suggest family conversations about how the school day progresses. Perhaps inquiring about the friendships that are blooming and how the children are feeling about classmates they interact with daily.  I am convinced that as a school community, we can promote a healthy culture of social behaviors where all children can thrive and develop to their fullest potential.

For more on managing stress and building relationships:

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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