It’s natural for me, should I have a problem in my life, to look at animals and how they overcome similar obstacles. For example, when I fell pregnant with twins, I researched animals that have multiple babies and how they cope with that extra pressure. This time though, it’s about my eldest daughter, Miss Possum, who’s struggling with making friends at school.
I could just imagine her being bullied, isolated and her desperately trying anything to fit in. I know all about pecking orders in the animal world and being down the bottom is not a nice place to be. I didn’t want that for her.
My first instinct was to roar at the little girls who wouldn’t accept my cub into their pack. I didn’t, of course, but I wanted to. When Miss Possum would come home telling me that she’d played alone again that day, I’d lick her wounds and cuddle her close and tell her how much I loved her. It was pure maternal instinct to want to protect her from the big bad world of social hierarchy.
However, humans are slightly more complex than other animals, and although I had a couple of ideas of my own on how to combat the problem, I’m very glad I consulted these three girls for guidance.
Jackie from My Little Bookcase
Kate from Laughing Kids Learn
Pauline from Lessons Learnt Journal
In the Google hangout below, I was their guinea pig and they gave some very valuable advice on helping Miss Possum build friendships and life-long skills.
I’ve used many of the ideas from that video and they were exactly what I needed to contain my inner lioness and give me real strategies to move toward.
So, what can animals teach us about building friendships?
Animals make friends too and there’s one tip that wasn’t mentioned in the video above. The saying ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ doesn’t just apply to humans. Social animals are always helping each other, whether it’s by keeping each other warm in winter or grooming parasites off each others’ coats. When we need help, it’s always nice to know someone’s got your back.
I’m not suggesting your child should groom nits off the heads of other children at school (although perhaps that’s an option we should consider, lord knows I hate doing it!) but in the animal world, friendships are born through mutual help and respect. By teaching Miss Possum to respect others, be kind, friendly and helpful, I hope to see her increase her chances of making more meaningful and lifelong friendships.
Armed with the tips from Jackie, Pauline and Kate, and taking into consideration my knowledge of animal social interactions, I’ve already seen a vast improvement in Miss Possum’s confidence with her fellow school mates. I can only see it getting easier!
Has your child ever struggled with building friendships at school?