Friendships are really important to most of us, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never fight or that there won’t be tough times.
A friend is someone you spend time with, have fun with, and trust. Friends can lend a helping hand, give you support, introduce you to new things, and brighten up your day. Some of the things people value in their friendships are:
- laughing and joking together
- having adventures together
- playing sports
- having sleepovers
- watching movies and playing video games together
- encouraging each other
- respecting differences
- feeling safe to share secrets
- figuring out how to sort out problems
What are the things you look for in a friend? What do you think makes a good friend? Some people like to be friends with lots and lots of people, while others like to have one or two special friendships (sometimes known as 'Besties').
Fighting with friends
Having a fight with a friend can feel really bad and be really upsetting. It can leave you with all sorts of mixed-up feelings.
You may feel:
Falling out with a friend or friends can happen really fast and be unexpected, but even the best friends in the universe argue from time to time. Rough patches can be a normal part of friendship, but it’s how you deal with things afterwards that’s the most important bit.
When you have a fight with a friend, it might be helpful to think about:
- How were you feeling before and during the fight with your friend?
- How did you express your feelings/what did you do with your feelings?
- How do you feel now about what happened?
- How do you feel about your friend?
- What would you like your friend or friends to know?
- What would you like to see happen next?
- Do you want to keep being friends?
How to patch things up
After a fight or an argument, you and your friend may need some space or time apart to cool off. Then you can think about ways to talk about what happened, and sort things out with your friend or friends.
If you decide you really want to try and patch things up, here are some tips that might help:
- Think about how it started or what was happening – What was it all about? Was there anything that made the fight worse? Were you tired or having a bad day? What’s happening now to keep the fight going?
- Think about your feelings – Are you hurt or angry about what happened? Are you feeling sad that you’re fighting with your friend? How do you think your friend is feeling? Is the thing the two of you were fighting about worth all the bad things you are feeling now?
- Talk it out – You might want to think about whether it’s better for you to talk in private, or whether you need support or others to be with you. When you’re talking after a fight, remember to stay calm and don’t blame each other. Let your friend know what you’re thinking and feeling and be willing to listen to their thoughts and feelings too.
- Learn from the fight – You can use the fight to learn more about each other. It’s good to consider what you and your friend can do differently or change, to stop another fight from happening in the future.
- Say sorry – Think about the part you played in the fight. Did you hurt your friend’s feelings or lose your temper? If so, saying sorry is a great way to start to get back with your friend. Even if you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong, you can still say sorry that the two of you are fighting and that you miss them. This doesn’t mean that it’s all your fault, but may help begin to patch things up. Someone has to make the first move!
Drifting apart or breaking up with friends
There are times when you might not be able to work things out, and maybe you or your friend don’t want to be friends anymore – this is okay too. Even if it feels really hard at first, maybe the fight can’t be mended because you don’t trust each other anymore. Maybe you’re moving in different directions or the things that kept the friendship together have changed. As kids get older, their behaviour and interests change and grow too, and these changes can have a big impact on friendships.
It doesn’t matter how awesome and likeable you are, it’s impossible to get along with everyone all the time. Being left out of a group or ignored by a friend can be really hard and hurt a lot. But just because one person or a group doesn’t want to include you, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make new, better-fitting friends in other people. Don’t be hard on yourself – think about ways to meet new people and treasure any good relationships, mates or whānau that you do have.
If you’re having a hard time with friends because they’re treating you badly, like putting you down, telling your secrets, spreading rumours, or putting pressure on you to do something you don’t want to do (peer pressure), you need to think about whether you really want to be friends. If you find you fight with your friend all the time, or feel hurt or nervous most of the time you're around them, you might decide to end the friendship. The end of a friendship can be really sad and a hard time, but remember, if you’re unhappy in your friendship it’s okay to let an unhealthy friendship go and look for new friends who fit you better.
Making new friends
Making friends sometimes seems to just happen, but it can take some time and practice.
Think about what you’re looking for in a friend or think about who you’d like to be friends with. You might want to look for a friend who shares similar hobbies and interests as you – say you like to play handball at lunchtime, it might be cool to make friends with someone who likes handball too so you can play together. But having friends that are different from you can be just as important as having ones that are similar, as long as you both accept each other for who you are. Maybe you can introduce each other to new things and experiences.
If you want to make some new friends, you could try:
- striking up a conversation with someone you’d like to be friends with
- asking them about what they like to do – maybe there’s something you can both enjoy doing together. Another way to start a conversation is to smile and say something nice about the person you’re talking to – a smile can show that you’re friendly and would like to make friends
- asking open questions is a great way to start a conversation and to keep it going – like, “What’s your favourite movie or TV show?” or “What did you do in the weekend?” Asking questions shows you’re interested in other people and helps you get to know the other person better.
- remember, other kids may be feeling nervous and would like to make new friends too