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Dear Parents/Caregivers,

Friendships change… and that’s okay!

It is so good to be back at school and our staff team has been preparing for another fabulous term. I trust you all enjoyed some relaxing time as a family. I have written about friendships this week as many principals across Australia have observed that these challenging times have placed additional  pressure on students and their relationships with others.

Not surprisingly, students who develop friendships are generally happier at school and more likely to thrive academically. In some relationships a negativity bias can make students feel sad because they focus on an aspect of the relationship that did not go so well on a given day, rather than appreciating the interactions that were positive. Well known author Michael Grose makes a number of suggestions regarding friendships skills that students need to develop.

Good manners

There is no doubt about it – people who show respect are more appealing.  As parents it is essential that we not only explicitly teach good manners, but that we model them as well. Consider the impact you are having if you speak abruptly to shop assistants, on the telephone, at sporting matches or when dealing with teachers. At Investigator we focus on respect for ourselves, for others, for the environment and for animals. This is the Investigator difference!


Effective friendships require some compromise and sharing. I had an interesting conversation with students recently regarding what they would do if there was one piece of birthday cake left, but two people who had not yet had a piece. I am pleased to report that most students said that they would cut it in half, but some insisted that they would eat the whole piece. As parents we often go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that our children do not need to share anything, but we are not necessarily helping our children to enjoy flourishing relationships with others.

Holding a conversation

Students need to learn to engage in conversation. I notice that sometimes when asking a child a question, the child doesn’t respond and the parent gives the answer. Try not to do this. Students need to learn to show interest in others through making eye contact (unless this conflicts with a cultural belief), asking questions respectfully and being able to appropriately answer the questions of others. They need to learn to resist the temptation to interrupt and to not just talk about themselves. In Positive Education classes we learn about Active Constructive Responding (ACR), which comes into play here.

Winning and losing well

A desire to win is natural, but we need to not be too boastful or unaware of how your opponent might be feeling. Students need to maintain the relationship so that others will want to play again. As a parent it might seem easier to let your young child win to avoid a brief tantrum, but ultimately this is not in your child’s best interest.

Handling fights and disagreements

It is unrealistic to think that every moment of every day will be perfect. We will all experience fights and disagreements on occasions. The key, according to Grose, is to ensure that these do not lead to the breakdown of friendships. Strong friendships, like robust family relationships, not only withstand disagreements – they can actually grow stronger. Encourage your child to resolve friendship issues, and resist trying to fix the problem for them. Their confidence and self-respect will be given a boost from knowing that they are capable of solving their own problems. Savour the good times and as parents we can model showing gratitude for our positive interactions with friends.

Investigator College is a leader in Positive Education and, within this, Friendology teaches us four very important friendship facts:

  1. No friendship or relationship is perfect.
  2. Every friendship is different.
  3. Trust and respect are the two most important qualities of a friendship.
  4. Friendships change… and that’s okay!

We look forward to seeing more of you soon, as restrictions are predicted to ease during the term. We will keep you informed as changes are recommended by the Association of Independent Schools.

John Robinson

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