Today I met with two lower school students who are working on friendship skills. I introduced the idea that friendships are like riding your bike on a trail - there are often obstacles in your path. Every trail is going to have bumps and dips but if the obstacles are too big, you can't move forward. The students described the obstacles that they have experienced and then drew on the board the size of these bumps.
There were some big bumps! One was so big that the path was completely blocked. The students talked about how with some friends, there were more bumps than with others. Some bumps were much bigger with certain friends. With other friends, it was much easier to just enjoy the ride with few obstacles to have to work around.
Here were the biggest obstacles for these students:
- Not listening with respect.
- Laughing AT people not WITH them.
- Mocking and teasing.
- Making excuses - not taking responsibility for your own behavior and actions.
We also talked about how, as in the case with these two students, friendships can start off with difficulty but then smooth out after some time and effort. What makes for a smoother path? These were their ideas:
- Talk about your feelings with your friend.
- Talk to the friend directly if you are having problems (instead of talking to everyone else but NOT your friend).
- Care about your friend's feelings - no bragging, teasing, or mocking.
- Take responsibility for your behavior - apologize if necessary and make amends.
- Listen with respect, understanding, and empathy.
Great advice for us all!