The school year is now in full swing and it won’t be long before mothers everywhere start hearing their daughters’ tales of friendship woes. There is the familiar friendship triangle, lunchroom seating scandal, clique conflict, party invitation problem, and sleepover situations to name just a few.
Why do girls seem to have so much drama in their lives and why should parents take it seriously? As adults with more important things on our minds, like keeping the family fed and food on the table, it is easy to trivialize the challenges that face girls today. The girls I am referring to are 5 to 12 year olds.
Fact: Girls are social and emotional beings whose happiness hinges on being liked by her peers.
Fact: The friendships she forms now are creating the foundation for her friendship choices in the future.
Fact: Girls who are not taught how to handle friendship conflict have an increased likelihood of having low self-esteem and confidence.
Here are a few quick tips taken from Smart Cookies’ upcoming mother-daughter workshop Friends, Frenemies, and Fitting in, being held September 28 in Round Rock, Texas.
1) Be Your Own Hero. If your daughter is shy, soft spoken, or fearful, it is imperative that you teach her to find, and use, her voice. The sooner she learns that she is her own hero the better.
2) Teach peaceful conflict resolution. “Talk to the Hand” might be a sassy, snappy come back, but is it really helpful to the situation or does it add fuel to the fire? Show her how to be solution-oriented.
3) Spend 20 -30 minutes reviewing difficult situations that have come up in the past and discuss their outcomes. Did her approach work or not? Are the girls still friends or did they go their separate ways? Was that for the best or could it have been avoided?
4) Role play potential future sticky situations. See paragraph one for ideas though she may already have potential drama looming on the horizon. Have her practice her new skills using a variety of scenarios.
5) Share your own stories. You had friendship drama when you were her age too. Share what you learned from the experience and the wisdom you wish to pass on to her. She will come to see you as someone who does know what she is talking about.
Candace Avila is a social emotional educator, mother, and founder of Smart Cookies.