From good morning wishes to those we live with, to interactions with others we work or go to school with, to time spent shopping or driving or involved in after-school activities, right through until the very end of the day. Interactions every day. Opportunity to build a relationship. To show love, care and affection for others.
There is much in life that hinges on the effectiveness of our interpersonal skills. Our desire is for our children to be positive, functioning members of society. We understand that academic and technical skills are essential for operating well in society. We are also learning that social and emotional competence is valuable as well. Temperament is one characteristic of a person that provides a foundation for a relationship and influences social development. There is also ample opportunity to learn the skills that bring excellence in relationship.
Schools are an excellent place for social and emotional learning, both informally and through direct instruction. We have focussed this term on being aware of our interactions with others to care for their needs, to deeper develop the social and emotional understanding of our students in their interactions with others. As part of our Building Purposeful Lives framework, the relate quadrant which showcases Riley Relate for our ELC and Primary students, builds on the dispositions of communicating, collaborating, empathising and emulating. It is here that we have focussed our attention this term in assemblies and class devotions.
We all can care for the needs of others, in every interaction that we have. Following are a few ways that we have been encouraging our students to develop lives that show excellence in their relationship with others.
- Eye contact: Looking in the eyes of the person whom you are talking to. While this seems like such a simple action, it is incredibly powerful in communicating care and interest to the listener. Positive eye contact helps build rapport with the person you are talking to, gives them a sense of involvement in the conversation and connects them to the discussion. Making eye contact with someone while they are talking helps them to feel valued and encouraged.
- Answering others: When someone wishes you a good day, to stop, look them in the eye, and respond to the person, sometimes with a comment wishing them a great day as well. Taking the time to stop, make eye contact and show genuine care for the person we are speaking with builds a positive relationship and a sense of real interest. It shows that you aren’t just looking to meet your own needs but are willing to spend time caring for the needs of others.
- Ask a question in return: If you are asked a question in conversation, you should ask a question in return. If someone asks, ‘Did you have a good weekend?’, it would be best if you answered the question and then asked a question in return. This shows that you are just as interested in them as they are in you.
- Acts of kindness: Surprise others by performing random acts of kindness. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone else. Just this week, in our Infants assembly, I read the book, ‘When I’m Feeling Kind’ by Trace Moroney and encouraged our students to be looking for ways that they could do something to show love and kindness to others. In our daily lives, we get so busy and preoccupied that there isn’t much time to sit down and think about things we can do to show kindness to others.
- Work through conflict: When we have a dispute with others, take the opportunity to work through the concerns, having open communication with the person and being willing to ask forgiveness of the other person and then striving to change your ways. We should be striving to maintain positive relationships with those around us.
Good relationships are hard to form, harder to maintain, and easy to destroy. We build relationships to show love to others. Paul describes in Philippians 2: 2-4, ‘Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your interests, but also the interests of others.’
As we continue to deeply embed the skills needed to strive for relationships of excellence, may we be allowing our children to develop skills that help them interact positively with others and be blessings to those they meet. May we be looking for ways to model for them that simple gestures can communicate great respect, care and love for others. Let us use the opportunity to bless and honour others in our interactions each day.
Head of Primary Years