You may have seen “buddy benches” around in places where children play and wondered what that is.
The Buddy Bench, sometimes called a friendship bench, is a fairly new concept to foster inclusion and reduce loneliness among children. Buddy Benches have been successfully used throughout the world in a number of countries to help children find friends.
How does it work? The idea is simple. Basically, if you sit on the bench, you are signaling to other children that you are looking for a friend. Other children will notice someone sitting on the bench and reach out to them to make a new friend.
Benefits of Buddy Benches
Buddy Benches foster kindness and help reduce social isolation.
Shy children who don’t feel comfortable introducing themselves to other kids can sit on the bench to signal to other children that they are looking for a companion or would like to be included in playtime.
Buddy Benches aren’t just for shy kids though. A Buddy Bench can help virtually any child who is looking for companionship. There are many reasons that a child may choose to sit on a Buddy Bench. Children who are new to a school, for example, can bring other kids to them to find new friends. Kids who have just one or two close friends who happen to be home sick from school that day can use the bench to find someone new to play with at recess. Children who want to play a game that others are playing but don’t feel comfortable going up and asking to join can sit on the bench to get an invitation to play.
Buddy Benches can also help teach empathy to children.
When teachers or other adults explain to children that, not only will someone reach out to them if they sit there, but that if they see someone sitting there they can make a new friend by asking them to play, it draws attention to it so that kids pay attention and notice if someone sits there. Children are naturally drawn to other children and most will go to help once they notice that there’s another child in need. A child who has used a Buddy Bench to find friends will be more aware of the bench and even more likely to help if there is another child sitting on the bench. Having the opportunity to help other children can help a shy child overcome anxiety and shyness.
In addition to helping to reduce social isolation and improving mental well-being, Buddy Benches may hopefully help to reduce bullying too.
According to this study, approximately 49% of children in grades 4-12 reported having been bullied at least once within the previous month. At first it may seem like a child sitting alone on a bench may increase their chances of being bullied, but stories from children who have experience with Buddy Benches show that the opposite is actually true. With a simple online search, you can find success stories from around the world of children who have used Buddy Benches, and even inspiring stories about children self-starting fundraisers for other schools that don’t have one to purchase a Buddy Bench. Having a buddy bench gives children a safe space to eliminate loneliness.
Buddy Benches are an easy way to help reduce loneliness in children. Browse our selection of Buddy Benches and take steps towards fostering kindness and inclusion for your children today.