How to be a good friend

Due to the pandemic and all the online learning and isolation that took place in the previous two years, some children are lacking essential social skills.

In school, children of different ages get to experiment and learn how to interact with each other. This is not an easy process, and it takes some years for a child to be capable of sharing and playing nicely. Being a good friend is probably the most frequent conversation teachers have with children. And just when you think your child has learned how to play nicely and interact positively with peers, hormones show up and change everything!

Now imagine being in the middle of the learning process and having to stay home for months. Worse yet, you are then told that socializing with others during a pandemic is wrong and that you’re not allowed to go to school because other people might make you sick or you might make others ill. This is hard enough to understand and live with as adults--imagine what it is like for our children.

It's great that children were able to come to school at the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year! This means that they are once again facing different social situations and problems. However, some might revert to using unkind strategies to solve them. This is not because they are mean, but because they need to learn social skills!

Perhaps we would have expected them to know how to regulate their emotions by now, but because of COVID-19, some students are taking longer to learn how to respond appropriately. Bear in mind that making mistakes is part of the learning process and is expected and normal!

At home, some children constantly hurt their siblings; but the next day, we still allow them to be in the same household and encourage them to play together. So why is it that if this happens in a school, we call it bullying?

According to the National Centre Against Bullying, “Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behavior that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.”

Although there are different types of bullying, it is never a single episode or event. Neither is it a random act of aggression or mutual disagreements or fights. So, if your kid pushes someone on the playground it does not mean s/he is a bully. S/He just needs to learn social and problem-solving skills.

At TASIS Portugal, all students have time built into their schedules for social-emotional learning, in which they follow a robust program that helps them not only develop social skills but also understand what they can do if they witness unkind behaviors. Read a blog post all about social-emotional learning at TASIS Portugal here.

We use formal curricula in each division including:

  • Early Learning Center (PreKindergarten and Kindergarten: ELLI
  • Elementary School  (1st to 5th grades): The Toolbox Project
  • Middle / High School (6th through 12th grades) - Wayfinder 

Unfortunately, there is no magical school where all children are kind all day long and no one ever gets hurt feelings. At TASIS Portugal, as in all other schools, sometimes unkind episodes do take place. However, these episodes are never tolerated, and our teachers are equipped with strategies to guarantee the unfortunate acts remain single episodes and don’t escalate into bullying situations.

In fact, and because we know some children are lacking social skills because of the pandemic's effects, TASIS Portugal is implementing preventive programs and measures to promote children’s wellbeing and positive interactions. 

Look for upcoming blog posts from our faculty about what we're doing!

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