Friend drama can be so frustrating…. for parents, teachers, students, and everyone involved!
At one point, I had a particular group of students that were having arguments and causing drama EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I knew something had to change, so I tried a new strategy and it WORKED. Because it worked so well, I knew I had to share it with you!
Here’s what I did…
I sat all of the friends down in the morning before a fight or argument had occurred that day. All of the students were in a regulated, calm state. I shared a Google Doc with all of the students, so everyone could contribute and participate. Together, the students created a list of “friendship norms” that they all wanted to follow. They wrote down what qualities they wanted to see more in their friend group, like being honest and including everyone. They also wrote down qualities that they did not want to see in their friend group any more, like lying and swearing. Once the students finished their list, I printed it out and everyone signed the document.
I found that this strategy worked really well because students…
realized how their actions impacted other people
were able to hold each other accountable
learned how to establish healthy boundaries with other people
had the opportunity to practice being assertive & respectful
After I implemented this strategy, I overheard one student saying to another at lunch, “can you please follow friendship norms right now? That’s what we all agreed to do.”
In that moment, I was SO proud. My student was establishing healthy boundaries and asking the other student to treat them how they deserved to be treated. They were assertive and respectful, AND there was no drama. The drama stopped before it even began!
After implementing this strategy, my students were better equipped to handle their small conflicts independently. They were able to hold each other accountable while still being kind, which made such a difference.
I have watched this particular friend group take these friendship norms into fifth grade and beyond. They continue to use these norms and get along so much better!
Several people have been curious about the list my students created. I facilitated the conversation, but I let the students come up with the list themselves. Part of what makes this strategy work is having it be student-led. Because my students took the lead, they bought into this strategy.
These are the friendship norms they established:
Let people have time to think before they apologize
Tell the truth and be honest
Don’t call people names
No running away from each other
Allow everyone to be themselves—don’t telling other people what to do & don’t try to control other people
No hitting or play fighting
Don’t spread rumors
No jokes because people could take them the wrong way and the jokes could go to the next level
No body shaming
Don’t make excuses
Keep private information private—don’t overshare
If you end up trying this method in your own classroom, let me know what you think by sending me a message over on Instagram @always.upper.elementary or tagging me in your posts! I would love to hear about how it worked for you!
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