Talk With Tommy – Friendships

At a national camp conference that I attended a while back, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Michael Thompson, Ph. D. Michael has written several books, one of which is called Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Community, Friendship, Social Power and Bullying in Childhood and Adolescence. In his book, Michael explains that there are two different things going on in the lives of children every moment: friendship and popularity. Do you know the number one reason children go to school? Friendships! Children understand friendship at an early age and define it as: loyalty, caring, trust, a bond of “love”, shared interests, fun, and “someone who likes the inside of you and doesn’t care about the outside.” These are powerful, observant statements from school age children.

Michael goes on to explain in his book that the typical elementary school classroom breaks down as follows:

  • Very popular (15%)
  • Accepted (45%)
  • Average or Unclassifiable (20%)
  • Neglected or Overlooked (5%)
  • Controversial (5%)
  • Rejected (10%) (rejected aggressive & rejected submissive)

This means that 80% of children (Very popular, Accepted and Average or Unclassifiable) are “friend-eligible” and will experience normal social pain, but they are not usually at risk of not having friendships. But, this also means that 20% of children struggle to find friendships!

If your child has friends or is popular, help him/her to be a model of friendship and to possess those characteristics by which children define as a true friend. Moral leadership is so critical for school-age children (as well as parents) and popular children have a greater opportunity to set a good example of how to include others and be kind to others. What a great age to learn to bridge gaps to others!

As for the 20% at risk of not having friendships, it is critical for these children to know their uniqueness… the qualities that God gives each of us to make us special. Parents can help identify, build on and encourage this God-given uniqueness.

Camp is a place where children often find what is unique or special within them. They also see and appreciate what is special in others. Campers learn how to cooperate with and respect others, improve social skills and effective communication, discover more about moral values and their self-worth from their camp experience. Camp Olympia is the place for long-lasting friendships that follow the rules of kindness and inclusion.

We are so grateful for the time spent with your children this summer and look forward to seeing those that will be arriving for Term 4! God Bless!