Positive Relationships: ISC Wellbeing in International School Report 4/5
This is my fourth blog of five from ISC Research’s report on Wellbeing in International Schools.. Today’s blog focuses on the key finding that international schools need to actively work on positive relationships. This finding directly supports the need for my work on emotional wellbeing for relocation.
BACKGROUND TO THE WELLBEING IN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS REPORT
ISC Research’s report shares the preliminary findings of the first global research into wellbeing in international schools. The report is authored by Angie Wigford at International Educational Psychology Services Ltd. and Andrea Higgins at Cardiff University School of Psychology.
AIMS OF THE WELLBEING IN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS RESEARCH
There are two main aims in the Wellbeing in International Schools report:
to identify what promotes wellbeing
to identify the barriers to wellbeing.
KEY FINDING FROM THE WELLBEING IN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS REPORT
“Positive, supportive relationships are powerful in enhancing wellbeing but these do not just happen. Schools need to actively work at this” (Wigford and Higgins, 2018: p.22).
Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, identifies positive relationships as one of the five elements that contributes to overall wellbeing. Seligman refers to Cacioppo and Patrick’s (2006) work, where they reported that lonely young adults are higher in anxiety, anger and negative mood compared to their non-lonely peers. The lonely group are also lower in optimism, social skills and support, positive mood, extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness and sociability.
For globally mobile children and young people, forming positive relationships is a vital part of their experience. We can see from Cacioppo and Patrick’s (2006) results that the implications of lonely children are negative and extensive. International schools play a vital role in supporting their students to develop the necessary skills to form positive relationships against the backdrop of constant change and loss.
In my teaching experience and my research, consistently using purposeful strategies to proactively develop students’ peer relationship skills paid huge dividends. The children I interviewed for my doctorate identified the changes they noticed in positive relationships over one academic year. These included vital skills for establishing positive relationships such as:
developing trust with peers
improving communication between students:
increased action response to empathy
taking deliberate action to include others
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ORGANISATIONS WHO RELOCATE FAMILIES?
Positive relationships are also important in an organisational context. At a physiological level, social support has been reliably linked to lower rates of illness and disease. Healthier employees generally have lower rates of absence from work, which can make a positive difference to the bottom line. Illness can be costly for businesses, as explained in this Forbes article.
If organisations don’t provide opportunities for employees and their families to create positive relationships, they could be missing an important opportunity to enhance both staff wellbeing and the bottom line.
HOW I CAN HELP
My hello/goodbye transition audit provides specific data on developing positive relationships for your school. Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more.
My hello/goodbye family transition programme helps families on the move to establish and maintain positive relationships. Please send me a message if you’d like to hear more about how I can support relocating families in your organisation.
‘A New Adventure: Coaching Cards’ include a focus on positive relationships as one of my 5 Elements of Transition
For those of you celebrating the festive season, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope you have a wonderful day, wherever you are.