We know friendships are vital to children’s wellness. Friends help one another develop socially, emotionally, and morally and learn to negotiate conflicts that arise in relationships. Having friends even affects children’s academic performance by creating psychological safety and affecting the hormones that prime the brain for learning. (More oxytocin, less cortisol.)
Adolescent social dynamics can resemble a rollercoaster. And today, the ordinary stress of tweens and teens can be amplified by social media and compounded by current events such as the pandemic. That’s why our persistent efforts to teach students how to be kind friends has never been more important. Our “Family Circle” and “First Friends” programs connect each incoming student and family with welcoming peers. Frequent meetings of small-group advisories foster close connections and strengthen social-emotional skills. Lessons in kindness permeate literature selections, Chapel, daily devotionals, and Bible class.
We know the seeds of kindness are taking root because we see the fruit: a classmate holds the door for a peer, reminds someone of a homework assignment he might have missed, helps a teammate snap on a stubborn helmet, or asks to change seats for the day to support a friend who lost a beloved grandparent. It’s small moments like these that can change a life…and maybe change the world.