By William Rowen Healthy Roar staff | Spending time with friends is good for your health, experts say.
Friends can help you reduce stress, get through tough times, and choose healthy habits, accord-ing to health experts at the Mayo Clinic, a large healthcare organization. Friends can also “increase your sense of belonging and purpose,” the experts say.
To be a good friend, you should be kind, listen to others, be open with your feelings, and show you can be trusted by being responsible, Mayo Clinic healthy experts say.
Healthy Roar reporters in Mr. Desper’s classroom recently inter-viewed two doctors at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children—Dr. Kaitlyn Leahey and Dr. Jordan Kurzum. The reporters asked them questions about friendships.
Their interview has been shortened and edited.
Question: Why is it important for children to make friends?
Dr. Kaitlyn: I think it’s important for everyone to make friends, but especially as a kid because it’s fun. Your friends are people you can play with or go to talk about your day. When I go to work or school and I see my friends, it just makes me happy. They help me have a good day.
Question: How do friends affect people’s health, especially children and young adults?
Dr. Jordan: I believe that friendships do a lot to help with overall health and well-being. We know that when people have good friends who are supportive of who they are and what they’re interested ing) it sets them up for success and what they want to do in life. When you’re comfortable in your home life, you can focus on your goals. When you have good friendships, your health is overall affected in a positive way.
Question: What skills do children need to help them make and take care of lasting friendships?
Dr. Kaitlyn: I think there are a few things to make and keep friendships going. First, you need to be able to talk to your friends and share with them. And when you are not getting along, you need to be able to talk about the conflict and move past it.
Friends need to be there for each other. Maybe your friend is having a tough time. So it’s important to be there to support them.
Question: What advice can you give to students who feel shy or have a hard time making friends?
Dr. Jordan: It’s definitely harder for people who are shy to feel comfortable to put themselves out there. Shy kids can participate in different activities such as sports or school clubs. When you’re in an environment surrounded by people who are interested in the same things you are, it’s much easier to make friends.
Question: What can a school do to help kids connect with each other?
Dr. Kaitlyn: Having opportunities for you to meet and spend time together beyond just doing school-work is a good way to make friends with other kids.
It’s also good to get to know people outside your class—maybe at lunchtime and recess. I remember going on field trips, and that was a good time to make new friends.
Question: What can kids do if they have a conflict with a friend?
Dr. Jordan: Conflict isn’t easy because usually when you find yourself in a conflict with a friend you’re not thinking in the right space. Just take a moment. Breathe and slow down. Usually once you take a second you have time to think about what’s going on be-hind the conflict.
Second, you have your own reason for being in a conflict, but think about what could be causing your friend to be in this conflict. Using that moment to try to understand where that friend is coming from could be really helpful in resolving the conflict.
The last piece is to remember that it’s your friend. You care about this person and they care about you. Whatever conflict you’re dealing with, remember that this is a person you care about and who cares about you.