Preventing the effects-positive friendships

20220215-192814anti-bullying-charity-cumbria preventing the effects of bullying-building trusted friendships

Good friends are like stars. You do not always see them, but you know they are always there

"We are all the same and we are all different-what great friends we will be" 

"Kindness is the key to Friendship

Friendships and Bullying 

Healthy friendships are a protective factor against bullying. Even if you just have one friend, you are less likely to become a victim of bullying than if you have none. Not having friendships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated-and that can be a painful unhappy feeling.

Making and Maintaining friendships are skills we start learning from an early age by interacting socially with others within our families and with our peer groups.  The social skills we need to learn and develop that enable positive friendships are things like:

  • how to take turns and wait for each other.
  • to share (things, ideas, opinions) & to give and take.
  • to respect each other's things, ideas, or opinions
  • to celebrate each other's achievements.
  • to make up and mend the relationship, after a fall out
  • to listen to one another,  to negotiate and make compromises; eg. My friend wants to play on the xbox and I want to build with lego. Okay, today we will do xbox and next time lego!
  • to communicate tactfully, eg. Rather than say your hair cut looks terrible you might word it differently to not hurt your friend's feelings- 'It looks really different, but I liked it more before'
  • to value and celebrate differences –things like race, gender, interests,

Reflect on the list of skills above and ask yourself how well you think you currently do on those things-you can score yourself 1-10 (1 is low and 10 is high). What are your strengths and what can you learn to get better at? 

Having healthy, positive friendships boosts self-esteem and confidence, and can help you feel safe and give you a secure sense of belonging. If you have a peer group where you feel safe, supported and where you can be yourself, then that is going to have a positive influence on you. You might find this in a friendship group at school, or in a sports club, dance/drama group, trampolining Troup etc. Where do you engage with other young people? What interests do you have that other people share?

Being a Friend to others 

Let's look at Seven things you can do that will make YOU a positive and healthy friend. While we look at this, also ask yourself: do my friends do these Seven things towards me too

Treat each other as equals

In any group of friends, someone may take the lead but in positive and healthy friendships they wouldn't boss you about, take control, or insist on having their own way, all the time. They would be respectful of you and your ideas, thoughts, and opinions. If everyone treats everyone as equal, then power is shared between you. You can all collaborate and cooperate, in getting along.

Bullies want to wield power over you-so they are not treating you as an equal or with respect. 

honest and trustworthy 

When you say you are going to do something-do you, do it? Can you be relied upon to keep your word? If a friend shared something personal with you, would you gossip it round the school or keep it in confidence? If you arrange to meet your friend, do you follow through or might you pull out and let them down at the last minute? 

Are you dependable? Reliable? Trustworthy? 

Relationships are built on Trust. We learn that we are trustworthy when we experience ourselves as dependable- i.e  'I can rely on ME to do the things I commit to'. We learn that other people can be trusted when they consistently respond to us positively, can be counted on and don't let us down. ie. 'I can rely on others'  Sometimes growing up, you may have found people were not reliable, did let you down a lot and this can make trusting others harder to do- inside your heart it may go something like this 'well I don't want to risk being let down again cos that just hurts too much'

Celebrate each others success 

Imagine your friend gets into the first team at the football club and you did not. Of course, you would feel disappointed that you did not get in, as you really wanted to play. However, how would you respond to your friend's success at getting in? Would you be happy for him? Congratulate him? Come and watch him play and support him? Or would you feel so jealous and envious that those feelings would stop you from responding so kindly? You would not be able to celebrate with your friend. 

These unpleasant feelings can lead to bullying. 

Instead of seeing how well your friend did and joining in the celebration of his success you can only see your own shortcomings in comparison to your friend and its hard because you want what they got.   You may make it mean that you are not good enough or a failure or no good at anything and get into all kinds of negative thoughts about your own strengths and value. Perhaps, on that day you just didn't play well enough but you can another time, or you can get better and work hard to improve your skills, rather than give up. 

How about when these tricky feelings are around for you, you decide to do these 2 things:

Acknowledge that you are disappointed, that you didn't get in this time and use it as a motivator to train even harder until you achieve your goal. 

Acknowledge you feel a bit jealous of your friend's success and resolve to celebrate with them anyway because his success is your success in keeping the friendship positive and supportive. Can you share in their joy?

having friends outside this group 

When you have positive relationships and healthy friendships, your friends would be pleased and supportive of you to have other friends outside of this group. So, let's say you have friends from a club you go to or an activity you like doing and you see them outside of school. Your friend would be happy for you and encourage that.

If your friendship group is a bit of a clique, it might make you feel like you must only belong to this group, and this group only. It is a bit exclusive and is not open to others. If someone makes you feel bad because you spent time with others instead of them, then you don't need to feel bad about that.  Friendships change over time, and healthy friendships are about accepting each others strengths, choices and wanting the best for each other.

I stand up for you-you for me?

Healthy, positive relationships stand up for each other. If a bully has a go at you, you can count on your friend to be an Upstander and defend you. They might tell the bully to stop, but if they find it a bit scary, they might support you in reporting it and reassure you after the bullying event.  

 Refuse to apply peer pressure

Peer pressure is when your friends keep on trying to get you to do or say something that you do not want to do or say. Positive, supportive friendships might encourage you to have a go and try something new, because they can see that it will build your confidence and self-esteem, but they would not keep pressurising you to do or say something you did not want to, or it made you feel uncomfortable. These positive friends respect your NO! And Your YES! They respect your boundaries, and do not expect you to do everything they would do or keep on pressurising you, until you finally gave in. You would feel confident that you could assert your wishes and still belong to the group.  

You can be your REAL self 

Healthy, Positive Relationships allow you to be your real and true self. You do not have to pretend to be something you are not, to fit in. You are not expected to lark about or be a joker to impress anyone. You do not have to wear a mask or play a role like an actor in a play in order to impress or fit in.

When you are being your authentic self, you feel safe to share your thoughts, feelings, express your interests and your personality. BE YOURSELF. Real Friends and positive relationships want to know YOU-the real person and share in your ups and downs in life. 

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Mental Health Awareness Week 9th-15th May
Preventing the effects of Bullying-Being Assertive...


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Thursday, 11 August 2022