Why Inclusion and Friendship are Healthy for Kids and Teens

Posted on June 22, 2018
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There is a lot of focus in the media and online around bullying and cyberbullying. While there are several methods for helping your kids stand up to bullying, what about teaching kids and teens how to include others and foster genuine friendship? By shifting the focus to learning how to get along with others, form relationships, and be a good friend in return, you’ll actually help your child be healthier in the long run.

Improve Your Child’s Health by Promoting Inclusion and Friendship

Bullying and cyberbullying can have vastly negative effects on kids and teens, both mentally and physically. However, inclusion and friendship can have extremely positive effects on kids and teens lives and their mental states. Making friends is a social skill that is important, not for popularity purposes, but purely because friendship can provide many benefits.

Health Benefits of Having Friends

According to the Mayo Clinic, these benefits include:

  • Improved sense of belonging and purpose
  • Reduced stress
  • Boosts happiness
  • Improves self-confidence and self-worth (particularly important during teen years)
  • Helps in coping with traumas, both large and small

Adults with strong friendships have even been shown to have a reduced risk of health issues, such as depression, high blood pressure, and unhealthy body mass index (BMI). This is even more reason to encourage your kids and teens to foster friendships while they are young - it’s a social habit that will benefit them in the future, too.

Friendships and Inclusion Can Help End Bullying

Inclusion is a no-brainer when it comes to combating bullying. If everyone was included and accepted, bullying would no longer exist. However, friendship can provide another way to battle bullying aside from including those who might be left out. Friendship can help to turn bystanders into upstanders.

While “bystanders” witness bullying and do or say nothing to stop it (sometimes even encourage it), “upstanders” are those who help the victim of the bully. True friends would engage in the following when confronted with a bullying situation:

  • Standing up for the victim (if the situation is safe to do so)
  • Not laughing or encouraging the bully in any way
  • Not participating in the bullying
  • Not videotaping or photographing the incident to post online
  • Finding and telling an adult to get assistance

If your child or teen is a victim of bullying, there is help.

Unfortunately, no matter how good the behavior of your child or teen, bullying can happen anyways. If that’s the case, there are several resources for both you and your child. Don’t sit in silence and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

As a parent, you can help stop bullying by starting a dialogue about inclusion and friendship and keeping it going. Let your kids and teens know how important building friendships and relationships can be. Teach them how to be kind to others and how to do the right thing. Continue to support your kids and teens and be sure to provide all of the resources you can to help them with anything they might be dealing with.

Resources:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/voices-of-experience/simple-kids-play-vs-genuine-bullying-how-to-tell/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860