SPARKLERS / Kindness & friendship

Being a First-Rate Mate!

A habits activity to help Year 7 and 8 tamariki build empathy and learn new relationship skills
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Why we love it

Connecting with others is a fundamental human need – we all need people in our lives we care about, and who care about us too. When we feel connected to others it makes us, and the people we connect to, feel good.

Tikanga Tips

Māori tamariki may refer to ‘friends’ as sisters, brothers or whānau. The names don’t matter at all – this activity can include family and whānau relationships based on aroha, manaakitanga and tautoko.

Handy prep tips!

For this activity you’ll need to order some of our free Habit Stickers here, so students can use them to practice and develop new friendship skills.

Ahead of completing this activity, we’d suggest taking students through the 'There for me' activity and having this worksheet to refer to. To help with self-reflection, you may also like to take them through Discover your strengths.


Ask tamariki to remind you of some of the things we can bring to a friendship (or any relationship!), referring to the'There for me' worksheet for ideas.

Then on paper or in an exercise book, ask students to write a few ideas for each of the following:

  1. What sort of friend would you like to be? What traits would you like to have?
  2. What do you do well at the moment? (Another way to phrase this for tamariki might be: “What do you think your friends and whānau value about you?”
  3. What traits would you love to work on to become an even better friend?

Let tamariki know we’re not ‘stuck’ as we are now – we can grow and change, and develop the positive traits we want to have.

This doesn’t mean we need to change traits that are likeable e.g. if we’re funny, we can keep being funny, as people love this. But if we use humour to make others feel bad about themselves, this might be something we want to work on and create a new habit.

What to do:

Let tamariki know that working at a habit can help something that initially takes effort become easier. At first we have to think about it, but before long, we start doing it without thinking. It becomes automatic.

We can form habits to help us achieve goals, and also to connect and relate to people in happy, positive ways. Explain that today they’ll get to choose a friendship or ‘connecting’ habit they’d like to develop.

Talk about what makes a good habit. It’s useful to choose:

  • one habit at a time (so it’s easy to remember and we can focus our efforts and energy)
  • something small and manageable (rather than a full personality change!) E.g.
    • If you want to be friendly, your habit could be to say a warm hellos and goodbyes.
    • If you want to be more easy-going, your habit might be to say a big, enthusiastic “Yes!” when a friend has an idea
    • If you want to be more kind, you could try to say a compliment or kind word every day.
  • a specific action rather than something too big and broad, e.g. instead of “Be more generous” which is hard to measure, you might say: “Share my felts, some kai, or a big smile with someone each day.”
  • something that’s positively focussed i.e. something we want to do rather than something we want to avoid doing. So rather than ‘stop being bossy’ you’d say: ‘listen to others and let them make decisions too’.

Give students time to come up with their habit, then ask them to share it and check it's: easy, specific, positive, and something they can do most days (more than once a day is fine too).

Once they're happy, ask them to write the habit on their habit sticker and to put it somewhere prominent, such as on the front of their exercise book. This way it will act as a reminder.

Keep checking in on these –perhaps twice a day for the week – and praising efforts.

New habits can be developed at anytime of the year (or our lives)! Keep encouraging this as a way to self develop and adopt a growth mindset.

What Next?

Here are some ideas for continuing to explore friendships, from building them and managing conflict, to being a good friend online and to ourselves.

  • Chat and Act!
    • Discuss what encourages friendships? How do we make friends? Then, act out some examples in groups.
  • Bringing strengths to conflict - this will need to follow on from Discover Your Strengths
    • Discuss what we do when there’s conflict?
    • Discuss using strengths to determine which ones tamariki can draw upon. Refer to the 'There for me' worksheet and remind tamariki to focus on the good things about their friends during times of conflict.
    • If your tamariki are well practiced at the tummy breathing and body scan activities, you can practice these to help tamariki when there's been conflict.
  • Be a friend to you too!
    • Explore being a good friend to yourself and understand what self compassion is.
    • Discuss the sorts of things we can tell ourselves when we mess up?
    • Compare this with what we might say to a friend when they mess up? Are these things different?
    • Discuss what it would be like if we said the same things to ourselves when we mess up, as we'd would to friends?
    • Explore being kinder to ourselves, more willing to accept mistakes and being able to reassure ourselves. Just as we would to a friend.
    • You may like to try self compassion meditation exercises with tamariki
  • Friendships that aren't so good
    • Explore when a friendship is ‘unhealthy’ – what does this mean, and what can we do?
  • Online friendships matter too
    • Explore being a friend online. If you’d like someone to come in and run a paid session on this topic with your tamariki, we recommend John Parsons.

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Check out our top tips for surviving, thriving and bringing your A-game!

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