A school delivering a language-based program for students grades 5-12 with complex profiles.

Building Resilience in Peer Relationships; Jennifer Thorell, HS Principal

09 May 2018 8:55 AM | Anonymous

Resiliency is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Students with learning challenges face a variety of difficulties everyday which span academic, social, and emotional realms. Peer relationships can be particularly challenging as perceptions, and expressive and receptive language issues can cause misinterpretations of social exchanges. Prior experiences combined with these other factors can hinder the development and sustainability of positive peer relationships. As such, students can become dependent on adults to intervene and solve peer issues for them. While this dependency has a place at times, our goal is move students towards self-determination and independence. Building resilience is essential for this to occur and is best accomplished through collaboration with students, families, and supportive staff at school. This resilience helps to prepare students to handle future relationship issues and develop positive friendships beyond the supportive environment at LPS. Over the years, we have identified some points for students and families to help build resilience in this area :

For Students:

  • Demonstrated respect and kindness for one another
  • Use the phrase “I don’t want to be involved” to keep out of issues not involving you
  • If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
  • Texting, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, etc. should not to be used to engage in arguments or insults
  • Not believe that someone said something negative about you unless you hear it yourself
  • Be open to making new friends
  • Understanding that not everyone needs to be friends with everyone else, while respecting the feelings of others
  • Accept responsibility for your part in conflicts and apologize
  • Talk to parents about concerns that happen outside of school hours and ask for help in solving the issues
  • Be OK with your friends having friends that you are not friendly with
  • Understand that not everyone needs to be friends with everyone else, but we need to respect the feelings of others
  • Focus on your reason for being at LPS, which is to be a learner
  • Understand that friends sometimes disagree or even argue. They also work through their problems and forgive
  • Understand the difference between peer conflict and bullying
  • Understand that issues can’t always be solved right away. We all have uncomfortable feelings at times and it is important to be able to “sit” with them until they can be addressed
  • Not every issue will be resolved the way you want them to be.
  • Identify and focus on your strengths
  • It’s OK to fail, it is how we learn

For Families:

  • Monitor all technology usage on a regular basis and address issues immediately
  • Talk to your children about proper communication with others via technology
  • Friendships change. As children get older, it is developmentally appropriate to choose people with whom they have similar interests and are at a similar social/emotional maturity
  • There are always two sides to a story. Your child may be concerned that you will find out about their role in a conflict
  • A learning disability combined with becoming and being an adolescent is incredibly challenging!
  • Acknowledge their strengths and encourage participation in a variety of settings
  • Students often make mistakes in communication while trying to figure out friendships. Consider the intentionality when discussing with your children
  • Refer your child to an outside counselor if their needs exceed the boundaries of school-based counseling
  • Model healthy relationships
  • Help develop and encourage the practice of coping skills to manage uncomfortable feelings
  • Develop optimism
  • Help “scale the problem”. A “5” is an emergency that simply cannot wait! A “1” can be solved independently

For more information, please see the following resources:



Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, by Kenneth R. Ginsburg

Letting Go with Love and Confidence: Raising Responsible, Resilient, Self-Sufficient Teens in the 21st Century, Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D. and Susan Fitzgerald

Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child, Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein

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