Social beings survive better

Clearly, life has its ups and downs. Adults who cope best with the stresses and traumas of life generally have caring, supportive networks. Children with good social skills have more fun, share their problems, work out solutions and obtain group support for their activities and actions. When you belong to a number of groups, you obtain the self-esteem and emotional support you need to cope during stressful times. You aren't alone. Instead of being limited by your own resources, you utilise the support, feedback, information and skills from others to improve. You regard feedback as constructive, because generally it is well intentioned and well informed. Then you make the appropriate changes. Thus, you achieve more because others help you with their contacts, knowledge and experience.

When you belong to a tribe, whether it is a sports team, a drama club or the neighbourhood gang, you feel more secure, accepted and respected. When you have friends, you are happier at school, despite any learning difficulties, physical problems or family stresses, compared to children with a small, insecure or unstable network of friends.

Children who have a solid group of friends are generally less likely to be bullied than the loner or the child with a single friend. That's because most bullies are wimps who avoid children with a strong network of assertive friends.

Sharon was bullied for years ather old school. Eventually she moved on to a nice, new school. Everyone was friendly. One little girl wanted Sharon to be her best friend. 'What should I do?' Sharon asked me. I replied, 'No-one lives on rice alone. You also eat potato, pasta, chocolate, chips and ice cream. You need a bunch of goodfriends rather than being handcuffed to onefriend. Then you can improve your social skills, widenyour network and block bullies. If you lost one friend for any reason, e.g. they moved far away, you still have others. You won't be scared about being assertive because if friends don't like you being yourself, then you can make some more because you have the skills.'

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