The importance of friendships in adolescence

At Marist, we know the importance of friendships in adolescence – creating a sense of belonging, building self-esteem, which in turn contributes to positive mental health.

Our pastoral care program seeks to support our students to navigate friendship issues that they face. ReachOut Schools has found that having conflict within a friendship group can be more distressing than the experience of being bullied. “While friendships can offer significant benefits to their wellbeing, young people commonly experience behaviours from friends that leave them feeling worried, stressed or down”.

Navigating friendship issues is difficult. Instead of addressing issues as they arise, it can be easier to ignore and avoid them. Unfortunately, this then leads to behaviours which perpetuate the problem.

In our last Year 7 assembly, we explored the idea of ‘unfriendly friends’. We discussed how to identify them and how it can be hard to have a conversation about it. 

The boys are encouraged to think about what outcome they would want in this type of situation - whether they would like an apology, just like the behaviour to stop or whether they would like to discontinue the friendship.

The students were reminded of the importance of getting perspective by talking to someone, as well as setting personal boundaries, and encouraged to focus on what is within their control rather than worrying about what is not. Click here to view further ReachOut resources.

When our students choose to bring such issues to the pastoral team, we treat this information confidentially, and consult with the student before taking any action. We find the best outcomes come through teachers facilitating a restorative conversation. This assists the students to build an understanding of how their behaviour affects others and helps the students involved to take responsibility for finding a way to move forward.

I encourage you to discuss with your sons how their friendships are going, understanding that although they may be encountering complex friendship issues, that by reaching out we can find a way to avoid it impacting their wellbeing.

Naomi Whitehead
Year 7/8 Coordinator