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Teach Kids To Be Pro-Friend As Well As Anti-Bully: Carlin Flora
Education | May 29, 2013

Teach Kids To Be Pro-Friend As Well As Anti-Bully: Carlin Flora

Anti-bullying programs in schools certainly have their merit. But as education speaker Carlin Flora suggests, another effective approach is to teach kids to be pro-friend, instead of just anti-bullying. The Friendfluence author recently wrote an article in The Huffington Post about educating students about the benefits of making and sustaining friendships. "It only takes one," Flora writes. "Just one friend, that is, to reduce a child's chances of being bullied, and, if he is bullied, of developing depression as a result." Healthy friendships can also organically steer kids away from bullying or picking on others. "Illuminating friendship could not only protect kids from becoming aggressors or victims, but would also redirect them away from the narrow realm of bullying and toward the wide-open pursuit of solid friendships," Fora adds in the article, "with broad implications for their health, happiness, and success throughout life."

Flora also suggests that nurturing a child's friendship with an aggressive child may be better than discouraging the relationship. Flora cites research showing that 5-7 year-old children tend to be more physically aggressive if they've befriended someone else that is physically aggressive. What's surprising, however, is that the friends of older children with physically aggressive tendencies often become more compassionate and sensitive in response to their companion's behavior. Further, having at least one friend (even an aggressive one) makes it less likely the child will develop depression. Socially aggressive behavior, on the other hand, tends to be emulated by kids—even when they are not genetically predisposed to be aggressive. When it comes to gossip, name calling, and excluding children, Flora found that children tended to copy the behavior of those around them.

These examples are proof of the importantance to teach children how to be good friends. Building and sustaining social support structures are key to leading a "meaningful and productive life," Flora explains. Further, she says that teaching children to be more social and interesting to other kids "would reduce bullying, ease the primal pain of isolation, and instill in children a more conscious and active attitude toward the cultivation of friendship." While some kids are able to cultivate these skills on their own, it is extemely helpful when their teachers and parents have an understanding of the relationships between children and the development of aggressive and depressive behaviors. In her talks, Flora can address students, teachers, parents and employers alike on the role friendship plays in our lives. She explores the way friendships impact our behavior and mindset, and how we can foster healthier relationships that will help us lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
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