The Upper School Peer to Peer mentors visited with their 7th grade friends again this week, this time to discuss healthy relationships. Mentors wanted their younger classmates to take away two key points: respecting others for who they are and defining what a healthy relationship looks like in middle school. They also wanted 7th graders to walk away feeling more confident and comfortable with who they are, be open to others’ differences, and to have a basic understanding of what a healthy relationship should look like and how each person should act in a healthy friendship.
The session kicked off with mentors asking a series of questions that participants answered by raising their hands:
- Raise your hand if you have a friend that you trust.
- Raise your hand if you have ever felt like an adult in your life didn’t understand you.
- Raise your hand if you have ever had an argument with a friend.
- Raise your hand if you have ever seen someone you know make a negative comment towards another person online.
- Raise your hand if you have ever had a friend share something with others you did not want them to share.
- Raise your hand if you have ever seen someone get made fun of by classmates.
- Raise your hand if you have seen someone be an upstander instead of a bystander.
- Raise your hand if you respect yourself.
They then spent time creating a list of characteristics that make a person a good friend. Students talked about trust and loyalty, kindness and compassion, laughter and humor, honesty, acceptance, support, common ground, respect and self-esteem, responsibility, communication, gratitude, happiness, and confidence. Younger students learned that healthy relationships depend on respect for one’s self and for others and that setting boundaries is imperative. Boundaries can be both physical and emotional.
Sensitivity can be, well, a sensitive topic. It can be hard to learn to be sensitive but not too sensitive. Students can strive to not internalize everyone else’s opinions and must be careful when joking around with friends. It’s okay to “poke fun,” but there is a fine line between joking and hurting someone’s feelings. Mentors advised their younger schoolmates to pay attention when someone shows they are offended or says a line was crossed even when not intended. Impact, they said, is always more important than intent.
Who can be a friend? There are many different types of friendships, including those with common interests (sports, arts, etc.), parents, friends who are well-known and trustworthy, and those with whom many classes are shared. Mentors shared their experiences with friendships and gave examples of healthy relationships and how they keep them healthy, and how an unhealthy relationship turned healthy (and vice versa).
Each advisory then went on a “choose your own adventure” path, where students used group discussion to agree upon which choice to make on a series of slides. They finished with a vibrant discussion at the end, prompted by a series of pre-set questions such as “do you think you chose the right path, did it end the way you expected it, and what choice or choices along the way would you change and why?”
Thanks once again to our outstanding Upper School mentors for spending time helping their younger schoolmates.