What Does a Good, Healthy Friendship Look Like?
The tween and teen years can be challenging for many of our daughters. Growing up, every girl wants to have friends that she can have fun with. However, it can be a struggle for our girls to separate a true friend from someone that doesn’t want the best for them. This gets even more challenging if your daughter is having social difficulties, or has encountered learning challenges that are making her feel inadequate.
Instead of stepping in to manage this aspect of our daughters’ lives, we need to teach them about healthy friendships and let them come to these conclusions on their own. Our goal should be to show them support and encourage their growth, while demonstrating that the things that make them different are actually a superpower!
Today, we’ll discuss how to encourage our girls to celebrate their differences, and use this newfound confidence to pursue better, healthier friendships.
The pre-teen and adolescent years are full of challenges. One of the ways that children cope is by doing everything possible to fit in, so they can avoid standing out from the crowd. If they have learning or social challenges, these differences can be a source of shame, causing low self-esteem, anxiety, and stress.
Instead of working to help our girls fit in, we need to change our mindset to one that celebrates differences. Here are a few tips on how to do that effectively:
- Normalize extra help and support sessions, whenever they’re required
- Reframe how you discuss differences
- Avoid isolating students with learning challenges, and instead, work to support them so they can remain in the classroom with their peers
- Model acceptance in any way you can
How to Support Our Girls’ Healthy Friendships
When our girls are confident in themselves and what they can offer the world, it will be easier for them to reach out and connect with others. Along the way, it’s important that we, as parents and mentors, work to help instill in them a positive, realistic view of friendship. You should never dictate who they’re friends with, but you can help them understand the basic tenets of a good friendship.
Here are some of the skills that will help encourage our girls towards healthier, more meaningful friendships.
1. A positive view of friendship
Our girls need to see friendship as a positive element in their lives. Being competitive or wanting to be popular is not a good foundation for any relationship.
Friendships built with one person in the center in every situation will quickly lead to competition and infighting. Learning how to share and take turns is essential to any friendship.
Understanding and caring about the emotions and feelings of our friends is necessary for a relationship to progress beyond the superficial.
Being able to trust with caution will allow our girls to open up and be vulnerable with their friends, leading to deeper intimacy.