Trilogy Blog

Navigating Peer Relationships

Communication and empathy are key to developing peer relationships.

Author: Erika R. Carson, Ed.S.

Published: January 6, 2020

The Golden Rule

“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

It makes a lot of sense but how often do we practice this idea or model it for students?  How often do we help kids realize how much of an impact their words or actions can have on their peers? All students, at one point or another, have to deal with feelings of being bullied or isolate. Those feelings can be changed in an instant when a peer shows that they care or shows that they embrace that student’s uniqueness.

Teaching Empathy and Supporting Your Child

It’s one thing to talk to kids about being a good person, but it’s another thing to show them what it means to care about people in their community, as well as others around the world. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate effort to make a difference. Sometimes helping a friend tie their shoe, sharing a pencil or an extra snack, helping a peer with homework, or just spending time with someone who’s lonely can make all the difference. Kids of any age can do these small things. When a child or a teenager expresses their desire to help, supporting their passion to make a difference can have a profound impact.

The Young Boy Sewing Teddy Bears for Sick Kids

Promoting Empathy and Peer Relationships 

Many schools have added something called a “buddy bench” where a kid that is lonely can go and sit if they need a friend. Those not on the bench are being taught empathy by recognizing that there are other children who’re not feeling too good about themselves, or just need someone to connect with and spend time with them. It doesn’t take much effort to change someone’s bad day into a good one. It can be as simple as saying hello and starting a conversation.

The Young Girl Behind the Buddy Benches

Building Communication Skills

In addition, teaching kids at an early age, to communicate using more positive and clear language is always a good start. We know as adults that it’s not always what we say but how we say it. Everything we do isn’t going to be perfect all the time, but teaching kids to be clear about what’s upsetting them and leaving out the personal attacks can make a huge difference. We’re all guilty of using some unfriendly words when getting angry or upset but it makes the situation worse. Getting to the root of the problem often is the quickest way to solve it. For example: “I’m angry because I was left out of the game” is a lot easier to figure out than “I’m angry because he’s stupid and ugly.” It’s okay to be angry, but nasty can be extremely damaging to a kids’ self-esteem.

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