How Parents and Teachers Can Foster Positive Peer Relationships Skip to main content
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How Parents and Teachers Can Foster Positive Peer Relationships

Schools in Singapore are designed to provide their students with an environment where they can develop in a holistic manner. On top of serving as a space where students can focus on their academic endeavors, local and international schools in the country must also be able to support the physical, social, and emotional growth of their students. Coming up with such an environment, however, is easier said than done. In addition to having the right facilities, a school needs to cultivate a community where everyone can expect to take part in positive social interactions. This is a task that the entire academic community–including the teachers and parents–should work on together. 

According to studies in the field of education, positive peer interactions are associated with better attendance, a higher level of school engagement, and an increase in class participation. Peer relationships also provide students with an opportunity to pick up and hone both their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. These skills will prove to be quite useful in the future as the students navigate their professional and personal lives.

Knowing that, how can teachers and parents do their part in encouraging positive social interactions in Singapore schools and helping students reap the benefits of developing good connections with their peers? Below are some practical suggestions.  

Teach and Model Positive Social Interactions 

Whether their kids are still in foundation or already go to international secondary schools in Singapore, parents can still make a conscious effort to practice and model positive social interactions at home. It’s always good to start by setting an example that students can emulate, but it’s also perfectly fine to  for more clarity.

For example, parents and teachers can discuss listening as a soft skill and demonstrate how to use it properly. Then, they can enumerate certain situations and ask the students if these demonstrated the skill well or, if they did not, what steps are missing. After that, the students can practice the skill with an adult, then with a peer, and then receive feedback on how they demonstrated the skill on their own.

When the opportunity arises, the students can be reminded of this skill and how it can be applied to their present circumstances.

Of course, parents and teachers should also practice listening to reinforce its importance. The same approach can be used when teaching students about saying no, getting another person’s attention, sharing tasks, and correcting inappropriate behaviour, among other examples.  

Show How Good Communication Can Impact Self-Expression and Relationships

It takes years to develop good communication skills, and even then, a lot of adults still fail to make an effort to communicate well from time to time. Parents and teachers can help students get started on this skill by consistently modelling good communication skills themselves.

At home, parents can make it a habit to take turns speaking in a conversation, stating their thoughts directly instead of expecting others to predict what they want, and wholeheartedly saying common phrases like “please,” “you’re welcome,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” Teachers can do the same in and out of the classroom.

By normalising skills like apologising when in the wrong or showing appreciation for other people’s efforts, for example, teachers and parents can make it easier for students to communicate in an honest, yet healthy manner. This, in turn, will enable students to strengthen their connections with their peers while still staying true to themselves. 

Present Effective Ways of Resolving Conflicts

Conflict resolution is a complex, yet extremely helpful skill to have, no matter what age a person may be. After all, people of all ages can misunderstand each other and find themselves disagreeing with their family members, friends, and colleagues. The most effective way to improve school-aged children’s conflict resolution capabilities is to show them exactly how it’s done. 

It’s best to do this in the following manner:

  • First, emphasise the importance of not letting one’s emotions get the best of them in times of conflict. Some people find that they need to walk away and calm down for this to happen, and this is perfectly fine.
  • Next, identify the cause of the conflict and the desires of the conflicting parties. These should be stated clearly so that everyone’s on the same page.
  • Lastly, articulate the need for both parties to work on a solution that everyone can agree on. Even if the solution is to disagree, both parties should be able to respect the other’s opinion. 

Parents and teachers can go through this process with the students and practice it through role-playing or sharing how they can improve the way they resolved previous conflicts. It’s also important for adults to identify particular actions to avoid, such as name-calling or resorting to violence, as these will only make it more challenging for the conflicting parties to find a common ground.

Create Opportunities to Practice Effective Social Skills and Notice When They Happen 

Finally, parents and teachers should make an effort to create opportunities for their students to work and play together. This will give the students a chance to practice what they’ve learned about fostering positive peer relationships.

Parents, for example, can invite their children’s friends over to celebrate special occasions or just hang out at home. Teachers, on the other hand, can have the students work in groups so that they can listen to each other, share and consider ideas from group members, and resolve conflicts in practical ways. Outside of these activities, teachers can also make it a point to look for and notice positive interactions between students. Praising students for actively listening instead of interrupting their classmates is a good start. 

Building a school environment where students have a better chance of experiencing positive peer relationships takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort. By using these strategies in a consistent manner at home and in school, parents and teachers can contribute to the formation of children who are capable of initiating, fostering, and being on the receiving end of positive social interactions with their peers.