This month we will focus on the powerful word; “loyalty.”
What is Loyalty
Loyalty is a complex word that benefits greatly from discussion and examples. 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. However, loyalty doesn’t mean we always agree or we refuse to speak up when we know someone we love is wrong.
This concept can be confusing to children and teens who may be navigating complicated feelings and relationships for the rst 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?” “If my friend told me to keep a secret but I know that what s/ he is doing is wrong or hurtful,
it is disloyal to tell someone? As adults we know that speaking up and being true to one’s values is the right choice.
How does Loyalty Work
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.
As we know, and what is underscored by the research, loyalty in friendships is based on common ground, shared values and connection– not popularity. Loyalty and longevity is desirable because those who have more intimate bonds with close friends (rather than scores of less intimate friends) tend to report less social anxiety, bigger boosts in self-worth and fewer depressive symptoms than their peers.
Types of Loyalty
Aside from person to person loyalty, there is also group loyalty. A recent study shows that young children, ages 4-5 years old, value group loyalty highly (Journal of Experimental Psychology, Feb.2016). The study tested whether young children would remain loyal to their group even when they could accumulate stickers if they chose to be disloyal. Across ages, children were more likely to remain loyal to their group rather than divulge the “group secret” to the puppet who was bribing them with stickers in exchange for the secret information.
“Loyalty,” in all its complexity, should create some interesting discussions!
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