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Quality over Quantity in Friendships

Article Glossary

Glossary of Terms

At URSTRONG, we believe it’s important to use kids’ language for kids’ problems. That’s why we have our very own, unique language of friendship. Here are some important terms that children, parents, and teachers learn in our program.

Friendship Fire®: Any situation between you and a friend that results in negative feelings.

Mean-on-Purpose: When someone is intentionally unkind to someone else.

Quick Comeback: A very short word or phrase that is used when someone is Mean-on-Purpose. Quick Comebacks are designed to let the other person know that you heard/saw what they did and you’re not okay with it.

Friend-o-meter: A visual tool that assesses the health of friendships, ranging from the healthy zone to the unhealthy zone.

Friend-o-cycle: The normal cycle in a friendship that brings the friendship back to the healthy zone after experiencing a Friendship Fire. The phases of the Friend-o-cycle are: Healthy Friendship – Fire – Confront the issue – Talk-it-Out – Forgive & Forget – Closer & Stronger – Healthy Friendship…

4 Friendship Facts: A set of four facts that help us have realistic expectations in our friendships so we understand what is normal.

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

Red Shirt Girl and Striped Shirt Boy: Two characters that remind us about the importance of body language.

Friendship Ninja: A Friendship Ninja is someone who surrounds themselves with friends in the healthy zone of the Friend-o-meter. A Friendship Ninja is kind and friendly to everyone. A Friendship Ninja understands the 4 Friendship Facts and puts out their Friendship Fires when they ignite. A Friendship Ninja stands up for themselves and their friends. A Friendship Ninja makes new friends and understands that friendships change…and that’s okay. Above all else, a Friendship Ninja is someone you want to be friends with because they’re true to who they are!

Quality vs Quantity. Friendly vs Friendship. Fitting-in vs Belonging. These are important distinctions in friendships!

To access this resource, you must purchase Educator Membership or Parent Membership.

Our Founder, Dana Kerford, was interviewed in October 2019 for the Sydney Morning Herald. Here is the interview with journalist and author, Kasey Edwards:


“Be friends with everyone”.

I don’t know how many times I’ve given my two daughters this advice. And it’s not just me. I’ve heard many other parents say this same phrase, it comes right out of the Good Parents’ Manual.

Rather than focusing on the quantity of friends, we should be teaching our kids about the importance of quality friends.
Rather than focusing on the quantity of friends, we should be teaching our kids about the importance of quality friends. CREDIT:ISTOCK

We say it because we have a genuine desire to raise good human beings. We don’t want our kids to be deliberately cruel and hurtful.

And, if I’m really honest, my “be friends with everyone” advice also comes from a place of fear. No doubt influenced by my own schoolyard baggage, I essentially treated friendship like a numbers game: the more mates you have the less likely you are to end up being a Nigel No Friends.

 

Friendship skills expert and founder of URSTRONG Dana Kerford doesn’t mince words when she says that telling kids to be friends with everyone is a very bad idea.

“If parents are telling kids to be friends with everyone they are giving dangerous advice because not everyone is good for us,” says Kerford. “Some people bring out the best in us and some people bring out the worst, and children should not have to be friends with people who are not good for them.”

If you’re not convinced, Kerford encourages parents to think about the consequences of the “Be friends with everyone” advice for their child later in life.

 

“What does that advice mean in romantic relationships? That’s not when we want our kids learning the importance of being selective for the very first time”.

This isn’t to say that we should raise our children to be anti-social and exclusionary. We can still encourage our children to be kind and respectful of everyone, without telling them they must be friends with them all.

This is the same social standard that applies to adults. We don’t expect adults to be friends with everyone. While you probably endeavour to be polite and respectful to all your colleagues (mostly), you don’t feel compelled to share your secrets and your toys with every single one of them.

Nobody is telling you you have to invite that irritating person in the next cubicle who never shuts up to your birthday party.

“The message we want to give our kids is choose wisely,” says Kerford. “What’s so special about friendship is that it’s a relationship that we choose”.

Rather than focusing on the quantity of friends, we should be teaching our kids about the importance of quality friends.

“Quality relationships are based in trust and respect and we feel good when we’re with that person. We feel like we can be ourselves, we have fun. And that isn’t everybody, we don’t have that connection with everyone and that’s okay,” Kerford says.

The desire to be friends with everyone can force children into a situation where they try to “fit in” rather than “belong”.

As social scientist and author Brené Brown writes in The Gifts of Imperfection, “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

 

But in order for people to “belong” they have to be prepared not to “fit in”.

“[M]en and women who have the deepest sense of true belonging are people who also have the courage to stand alone when called to do that. They are willing to maintain their integrity and risk disconnection in order to stand up for what they believe in,” Brown said.

To put that in kid-speak: Only give your friendship to someone who likes you the way you are and you like them way they are.

Kasey Edwards is the author of the young adult series The Chess Raven Chronicles under the pen name Violet Grace.