Best Friends Forever?
Before we head back to school it's a good time to help children examine their relationships with their peers.
There is so much that children have missed over the lock down period, but many were happy to skip the BFE, 'tween' and 'teen' dramas.
The physical and emotional distance from their friends has allowed children to reflect on which of their friendships they wish to take with them and which they wish to leave behind in the new school year.
We can ask our children what friendship really means to them - which three words come to mind? Whether you ask this to a group of children, or your own child, it allows children to come up with descriptors such as, 'kind', 'loyal', 'trustworthy' or 'stands up for you'. Ask, "When you think of your three best friends do they have these qualities?"
This type of question enables children to pay attention to their gut feelings - feelings that emerge as a kind of summary of their experiences and expectations that might otherwise be hard to put into words.
When children become mindful of how they feel, think and act when they are with specific people they learn to trust themselves. Focusing on other children's positive traits helps them to discern who adds value to their life rather than fixating on who steals their joy.
Practising curiosity and pulling back from judgement keeps adults connected with children, without making children feel that we are criticising their choices; we have to allow them to make their own decisions.
Offering children compassion and empathy through their experiences keeps you connected and helps children to work through their feelings.
There will be positive and negative consequences from the social isolation that children and families have experienced during lock down, but there are also opportunities for growth that we can carry forward into our 'new normal'.
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