As the saying goes, one kind word often leads to another. An ongoing conversation of kind words can be the starting block for developing a strong and healthy relationship. We often build healthy and dependable relationships around shared values and kindness is a value most of us recognise as important in our lives.
Kindness comes in many different forms. It is much more than being “nice”. Relationships can be challenging as well as enjoyable. Kind words may be those which show courage to engage in difficult conversations, to deal with difficult emotional reactions and to work through challenges to your relationships.
Relationships are vital to our wellbeing and development. Harvard research shows relationship experiences and role modelling in early childhood and our teenage years shape future physical and mental health, academic achievement, work, happiness and life outcomes.
By role modelling kindness and respect we all play a crucial role in the relationship expectations and skills of children and young people. By talking kindly about others, challenging uncaring or abusive words or actions we witness, and reaching out to those perceived as different, we teach children how to be kind to one another and how to build healthy relationships. Whether intentionally or not, we are constantly teaching children and young people about relationships.
For all children and young people to benefit from healthy and dependable relationships, positive relationships need to be lived and breathed by the whole community. Fastn and partners produced a set of Principles in relationships education that supports schools to put relationships at the heart of all they do.
The Principles help schools create a culture of kindness where positive dependable relationships are role modelled. In turn, healthy relationships with peers lead to more kind words and lower levels of bullying and abusive behaviours.
It’s not just schools that have an important role to play. Youth organisations that put relationships at the centre of their work can also support young people who are facing bullying. Fastn’s Vlogstar project with Media Trust and Hull-based youth organisations highlighted how youth organisations cultivate positive relationships and support young people facing bullying. You can watch Jordan’s story here.
By learning how to develop healthy relationships, we become more positive and welcoming towards others, and do not make others feel lonely or excluded. With relationships at the centre of any setting, we create a respectful and nurturing environment and sense of community, where instances of unkindness stand out and can be addressed promptly. That’s why healthy relationships learning is a key instrument to challenge bullying and protecting young lives.
Fastn is delighted that Kidscape have joined its network of partners supporting the use of The Principles in schools. The Principles will reinforce Kidscape’s work and are an important resource for schools in their approach to relationship learning, and tackling bullying one kind word at a time.
Download the Principles now and help create a kinder community of healthy, dependable relationships in your school.
By Hannah Partis
Hannah joined Fastn as the Education Programme Development Coordinator in August 2021. Hannah coordinates Fastn’s delivery with relationships specialist organisations, relationships education partners and youth-led organisations.
Fastn is a charity dedicated to working with others to create healthy, dependable relationships and recently launched, with twenty other organisations, The Principles of excellence in relationships education, a tool for schools and youth leaders to embed healthy relationships in their settings.