Friendology 101 could be the most impactful course your child participates in during their learning journey

When children feel happy, secure and in control of their world, they are able to learn and achieve the dreams to which they aspire.

Recently, I introduced our Years 2-6 students to the Moriah College Anti-Bullying Policy. The students’ attention was directed to the zero-tolerance approach that underpins the policy that governs their behaviour. They understood that this policy co-exists alongside the requirement for students to take control of their world and the wellbeing of self and others, by regulating their personal negative behaviours, not being a passive bystander who inadvertently empowers a bully, and locating skills and language to manage challenging situations.

Where to next?

From this week on, our school psychologists, myself and our Wellbeing leaders will educate students in the URSTRONG Friendology program. Bullying is referred to as “mean on purpose” behaviour throughout the Primary School, to ensure that students can differentiate between bullying and the minor “friendship fires” that they might experience with their peers, which are a normal part of life and can be managed specifically and easily.

They learn that behaviour that is:

  • targeted, repeated, and intentionally damaging
  • “mean on purpose”, and
  • includes an imbalance of power

should be reported, and requires a different set of actions from the student. The children learn a skills-based strategy to help them manage instances of bullying and “friendship fires”, which empowers them to self-govern and make healthy choices in their relationships. Interpersonal and conflict resolution skills are taught through the use of one common language that is used between child, parent and teacher, which renders the approach highly effective.

This link explains each of the eight lessons that children will move through during the Friendology program.

Promoting positive behaviour

Research has also identified that student voice is the most effective weapon against “mean on purpose” behaviours. We recently held an assembly, which honoured students who had made posters to promote positive behaviours and disarm bully practice at the College. These posters are helping to establish a culture of healthy friendship, respect, care and empathy. They have been framed and will be hung strategically to remind students of the words of their peers.

Additionally, the practice of restorative justice to map out positive pathways for students involved in negative acts will continue. Whilst significant consequences are implemented in response to certain negative acts by students, the following will remian in order to assist students in building and mapping their individual skill sets:

  • break time social groups
  • teacher support
  • daily tuning-in and regulation sessions

A generation of happy students

Using our “Friend-o-meter” friendship evaluation tool, “Friend-o-cycle” analysis framework and rehearsed discourse, we will see confident individuals who look after themselves, protect others and prevent repeated “mean on purpose” attacks, emerge.

The stage is set for a generation of happy students who are self-aware, have a sense of their personal agency and have a good baseline of skill to build friendships. They would indeed be strong  and no doubt grateful for the URSTRONG program they have been gifted.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynda Fisher is the Head of Primary School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.

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