As per research, evolution of societies has been based on social interactions and in turn the base of social interactions is constituted by friendships and companionships.
When you're very young, of course, your primary social relationship is with your parents or caregivers. But later schools become a fertile ground when children begin to develop bonds of friendship. It first begins with doing things and enjoying together and then take a deeper turn with emotional connects. Then in adolescence, it becomes even more abstract and relational.
Especially during the initial school years, friendship acts as a catalyst for team spirit and a sense of belonging. We all must have witnessed the loudest cheers for friends at the Swimming Gala and during Sports Day, echoing loud in the air.
Friendships also form a base of tolerance and inclusivity in our society as we can’t choose our family and relatives but we can always pick our friends. Through friendships children explore the emotions of empathy, trust, loyalty, helpfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, a spirit of competition and even jealousy to name a few.
These emotions add to our personality and help us shape ourselves for future social interactions. Friendship is known to evoke strength by creating bonds which help people lean on their friends for encouragement, confidence and motivation. It is so very obvious when we often spot a child facing the class during a poem recital, eagerly looking for his friend in the audience.
There's a flip side too which demonstrates itself through peer pressure when it comes to bullying and feeling inadequate as a part of a peer group. That’s where the significance of instilling values and moral education comes in handy and the role of parents and teachers is magnified. We as teachers, parents and caregivers must instill the value of friendship among children. But this bond of friendship must come with ample space for individuality, self-expression, tolerance and appreciation of each other as friends.
We must educate children that friendships celebrate individuality rather than bringing compliance. This would not only give children the strength to stand up to peer pressure but also help them to shape their personalities as their unique selves. In fact, research suggests that friendships can help us find purpose and meaning, stay healthy, and live longer. The intimacy, support, equality, and emotional bonds we have in our friendships are unique.
In the current scenario, friendships which are weighed down by social media interactions, likes and dislikes on social media platforms, etc. actually are not real friendships. We must remind the young that real friendships need not have the constraints of having a hundred friends on social platforms and gazing into the screens of mobile phones while sitting with a friend in a cafe.
As I sign off, I'm reminded of a quote by someone anonymous - "The best things in your life aren't things... they're your friends."
Mrs. Ritu Kaushal
Headmistress, Junior School