Loyalty is a complex word. It means being faithful, steadfast and true to someone or something. When we are loyal, we stand up for and stand by our friends, family, school or cause. Of course, loyalty doesn’t mean we always agree or we refuse to speak up when we know someone we love is in the wrong.
This concept can be confusing to children and teens who may be navigating complicated feelings and relationships for the first time. They may wonder; “If I don’t agree with my friend, my teacher, or my family is it OK to speak up? Or, is that being disloyal?” As adults we know that speaking up and being true to one’s values does show loyalty.
All relationships require loyalty to work. Whether these relationships are family-based, friendship-based, or work-based, being true and supportive is expected. The breakdown of loyalty can seriously compromise friendships in children and adults. It is also not easily repaired as it involves a breach in trust.
A recent longitudinal study out this past June talks about strong character and loyalty as a vital part of positive child development. In particular, the children who were considered the “cool kids” (those young teens driven by popularity and the need to impress) did not turn out as well as other children who were not considered so “cool.”
As the lead researcher, Joseph P. Allen, said to the New York Times; “To be truly mature as an early adolescent means you’re able to be a good, loyal friend, supportive, hardworking and responsible. But that doesn’t get a lot of airplay on Monday morning in a ninth-grade homeroom.”
“Loyalty” should create some interesting discussions! I hope you will continue these discussions at home and while in transit, in order to help the children understand this multifaceted powerful word.
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