It can be hard to make friends at any age but especially as a kid, so we’ve gone straight to the source with our friends Hannah, 7th Grade, and Brandon, 5th Grade.
Popular culture dictates who is popular in your neck of the woods, and let me tell ya–it’s not enough to french roll your jeans and tease your hair with Aquanet anymore. Now our tweens must be up to the standards set forth against our fast-paced, technology-driven society. A little self-doubt is normal but a sea of it often looms over our Middle Schoolers day in and day out: Where do I belong? Am I good enough to be part of the cool group?
Things that seem trivial to us as adults are the most important moments at school, such as “What table am I going to sit at during lunch?” For some kids lunch and recess often present the most anxiety-filled 38 minutes of the day. Every child wants to make friends but not every child knows how.
What is perceived as an innocuous social situation can often lead to social distress. An S.O.S. call is needed to alleviate the pressure and take hold of those kids sitting at the corner table by themselves, relegated to being labeled as an outsider.
Who can answer their plea? Their peers.
Peers hold a resounding influence at most stages of development. In cases of bullying, excessive teasing, and manipulation the person who can prevent or escalate these acts of aggression are usually the other peers in the class. No one wants to be a tattletale and telling a teacher only helps so much. The answer lies in helping that group of kids who see others in distress learn to have enough confidence and wherewithal to reach out and rescue those who can’t rescue themselves–to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. With this act of heroism, comes new-found respect for oneself and sensitivity to the plight of others who have a tougher time developing this life skill.
Making friends is simply the act of taking a little risk– putting yourself out there without regard for embarrassment–and following your gut. Without risk there is no reward (like we talked about last week). We want to teach our students to avoid the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” regrets in life. So take a chance and reach out to make a new friend and teach others how to do the same. You never know whose life you’ll end up changing in the end.
Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com