On Monday evening this week, over forty St Christopher’s families attended Elizabeth’s talk on friendships at Brighton College. Friendships are such an important part of growing up. Friendships allow children to share interests, learn about others and learn about themselves. For school aged children, friendships can also be a source of friction. This is a normal and natural part of growing up but what is the best way to support your child through it? Luckily, Elizabeth has the answer.
I have worked with Elizabeth for many years and I respect and value her insight into parenting. She advises that parents should not swoop in and rescue their children at the first sign of discomfort or conflict. She adds that when parents do this, it is very well meaning, of course, but it does not teach a child the skills they need to navigate situations in the future. Her advice? Brainstorm solutions and encourage your child to try them out. For example, if your child comes home saying they’ve fallen out with a friend or had an argument, taking the time to brainstorm possible solutions to a conflict will teach them valuable skills and give them more control over the situation. It’s fine to give guidance at this stage, as adults we have all gained valuable insight from our own friendships. Next, encourage them to try out their solutions. If the conflict isn’t solved, brainstorm again and repeat. The beauty of this approach is that over time, this practice becomes automatic and children will have a wonderful conflict resolution skill they can use as they get older and situations become more complex.
Making new friends is also a wonderful way to learn about the wider world. I think this is vitally important because the children of today will be world citizens in a way we can only imagine. As a school, St Christopher’s has over twenty five different nationalities represented, and we take time to celebrate this, whether exploring phrases in new languages, or learning about cultural events and religious festivals. Year 4, for example, have been learning about Finland, Australia, and Indonesia, inspired by the backgrounds of some of the children in the year.
As a whole school, we ushered in the Year of the Rabbit with a marvellous event on Monday. The whole school assembled around the back court to watch the traditional Lion Dance. Our visitors explained that it’s not actually a lion, but a Western mispronunciation of the name of an evil spirit. The idea is that colour and brightness scare away such spirits at the start of a new year. Everyone was delighted when the lion started throwing lucky green lettuce around the court, bringing good luck to all those it landed on!
Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head