What makes a good friend?

November 15, 2021

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274)

Friends enrich our lives and contribute to our emotional and physical well-being. A close circle of friends has been proven to be an essential element in protecting our mental and physical health, decreasing feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety, and reducing risk of health problems like heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Friends offer emotional support, push us to be our best and help us develop confidence. They keep us ‘real’ and help us to manage daily life. Friends challenge us to be better, to be honest about ourselves, and they celebrate our successes with us. Studies tell us that happiness among friends is contagious. Through our friendships we can find purpose and meaning, and research shows they are as important to our well-being as healthy eating and exercise.

So, what makes a good friend?

It will come as no surprise that traits of integrity such as being trustworthy, honest, loyal, and dependable, are considered the most important quality in friends.  Being able to trust our friends means that we will be vulnerable at times, telling our secrets and fears, and we need to know we can depend on our friend’s loyalty in keeping these secrets. Being there for your friends, in tough times as well as good is a vital part of any friendship.

Other essential traits of any true friendship involve showing that we care. Being non- judgemental, showing empathy, listening to our friends, and being supportive are all important in a good relationship. Our friends are not always looking for advice; sometimes they just want someone to truly hear what they have to say. Just being there can be enough, so we need to make ourselves available to our friends, and as well as listening to them, we need to be willing to open up about ourselves.

Kindness is the core to successful adult relationships. I have heard friendship described as an emotional bank account with acts of kindness, loyalty, gratitude, dependability, and caring shown as deposits into the account, while acts of negativity, disloyalty and criticism draw down on the account. It’s always good to see an account growing!

And finally having fun!! It’s great to be around people whose company we enjoy. who find humour in life, who generally enjoy life and face challenges positively, whose self-confidence promotes our self-confidence.  At any stage of life, it’s fun to be silly at times and enjoy a really good laugh. Laughter is contagious!

How Green Shoots Helps Your Child to be a Good Friend

We regularly hear how much students enjoyed their time at Green Shoots and how much their families appreciated the friendships they made during their time here - friendships that have been continued across time and geography.  

At Green Shoots we work around our Values Tree to encourage students to live our seven values, all of which are traits of good friendships.

Respect - our core value, is a vital ingredient of all friendships.

Adaptability - saying “goodbye” to our friends, finding ways to keep in touch, and saying “hello” to new friends.

Tenacity - working hard at developing, sustaining and maintaining friendships.

Independence - making our own choices and decisions.

Sustainability - we must care for our friendships to help them develop and grow.

Thoughtfulness - an essential part of all relationships.

Integrity - honesty and trustworthiness the cornerstone of friendship.

Cooperation - working together to build the bonds of friendship.

We work hard to engage our students in activities outside of the core academic subjects that will make them fully rounded individuals. Our mindfulness and PSHE lessons encourage our students to be aware of the needs of people around them, to show gratitude, and to be individuals, capable of critical thinking, compassion and empathy. We consider the value of friendships and the importance of maintaining them.

Our ECA programme allows like-minded students to share interests across the school years, and allows older students to help and care for their younger peers, and our house system, which brings students from all classes in the school to come together, means that older students can take on leadership roles and nurture younger children.

Strong bonds are created within our homerooms, with students often working collaboratively and learning how to give and take, and support each other’s efforts, and then celebrate everyone’s successes. We enjoy ‘reading buddy’ time, and other shared class activities, which encourages our younger students to see their older peers as friends they can trust and depend on.

Break times include students sharing play activities with those from other classes and key stages and when eating morning tea and lunch the students often share tables with a mixed range of peers. We encourage our students to respect and enjoy each other’s cultures through events like International Week, which shows our students that friendship has no bounds.

We know that students maintain friendships with peers who have left our school and are living elsewhere. My own class talked to me this morning about a student, who has left the school and returned to her home country, having a birthday today. They had all communicated birthday greetings to her.   In the last ten years, the circle of Green Shoots friends has widened and endured. Here’s to the next ten years of new friendships!

Maxine Walton

School Counsellor & PSHE Teacher

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature     and design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (2004). Making human beings human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. London/Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Cuncic, A. (2021) Very Well Mind: 6 Reasons Why Friends Are Important. Degges-White, S. (2015)  Psychology Today, “The Thirteen Essential Traits of Good Friends.” 

Denworth, L.  (2020)  Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of 

Life's Fundamental Bond, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. (2010) Social relationships and mortality risk: A 

meta-analytic review. PLoS Med;7(7)

Roffey,S. (Ed) (2011) Friendships: Evidence Based Practices Across The World, Springer

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