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Friendships

Friendships play a pivotal role in students' social and emotional lives, particularly during secondary school. Healthy friendships can therefore have a major impact on their mental health and wellbeing, helping to protect them against stress and strengthening their resilience. By providing students with a sense of belonging and connectedness, friendships develop their self-esteem, and their problem-solving and social skills.

Teaching students about friendships needs to be embedded in social and emotional learning and wellbeing programs. It’s important that these programs equip students with the skills they will need to maintain strong and healthy relationships, such as by teaching them strategies for reaching out and connecting with others, assessing their current friendships, understanding how different behaviours can impact on their relationships, and navigating friendship issues. The broad term ‘friendship issues’ refers to overt and covert incidents that happen between friends or within friend groups, such as arguments, teasing, belittling, excluding, and spreading rumours or gossiping.

A lack of skills and confidence to have difficult conversations with friends, and a belief that there is little they can do to address the friendship issue, means the issue often goes unresolved, with the student choosing instead just to ignore or avoid the offending person. These behaviours can leave young people feeling shut out without explanation, and describing feelings of confusion, stress, anger, sadness and loneliness.

ReachOut Schools has put together these resources to help teachers teach students about friendships. This includes developing the skills to navigate behaviours within friendships that cause stress, worry and hurt. Through these lessons, students will be supported to foster positive, safe and stable friendships, so that they are able to benefit from the compassion, trust, fun and sense of belonging that these important relationships provide.

Classroom resources

Designed to be engaging and relevant to your students.

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Friendships end and change

Students examine different ways of dealing with changes in friendships and other relationships.

7-12

60 minutes

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