Strong, healthy, fun friendships are such a blessing in life. Friends who know us better than we know ourselves. Friends we can count on. Friends that we share life’s rich experiences with. BUT the reality for many teenagers is the very opposite of this. Teen years so often involve varying degrees of teenage friendship issues.
The inherent competitiveness that can (unfortunately) exist amongst many teen girls – exam grades, appearance, social media likes, sports performance – can significantly disrupt friendships.
We all know how friendships play a significant role in shaping our teens’ experiences. It’s all part of growing up. The difficulties around teenage friendship issues can affect girls deeply, as well as impacting classmates and families. The tension and difficulties inevitably affect school life too and can impact girls’ progress at school.
It’s important to support our girls through these times and help them navigate the sometimes complex world of teenage friendship issues.
I’m sharing below four tips to help you support your daughter develop the skills and mindset that will help her navigate teenage friendships and cultivate positive friendships.
First things first, keep the lines of communication open. Be that person your daughter can turn to when she needs someone to listen or seek advice. Create a safe space where she feels comfortable sharing her thoughts and experiences with you. Remember, we’ve all been teenagers once, and we know how intense friendship dynamics can get. It’s a time when emotions run high, and the smallest things can feel like a big deal.
Letting your daughter know that it’s normal to face difficulties in friendships during this stage of life is key.
4 tips to help parents support girls in teenage friendship issues
1. Encourage girls to value themselves as individuals
All our relationships start with the one we have with ourselves. It’s crucial we value who we are as individuals, and all the unique qualities we have.
Encourage your daughter to recognise her unique qualities and embrace her own uniqueness.
When she reaches out to you for support regarding her teenage friendship issues, encourage and support her to see her own worth and qualities, building her feelings of self-belief.
This will lead to a more positive outlook on her friendships.
2.Understanding we can’t control other people
One crucial lesson in navigating teenage friendship issues is understanding that we can’t control other people.
Help your daughter grasp this concept and focus on becoming aware of, and then managing, her own thoughts and behaviour.
By shifting the focus inward, she can develop a healthier approach to relationships.
As a parent, you can guide her by encouraging self-reflection and helping her understand the impact of her reactions and actions in her friendships.
3. Recognise and address unhealthy behaviours
Teenage friendship issues often involve unhealthy behaviours. It’s important for your daughter to recognise that she has choices in her relationships and understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviour. Encourage her to pay attention to how she feels about herself when she’s with a particular person. If her answer is negative, it’s a clear sign of unhealthy behaviour.
A helpful question to ask teen girls to guide them to start to recognise healthy or unhealthy behaviour in relationships is:
“How do you feel about yourself when you’re with this person?”
If the answer is negative, then that’s a strong signal to that what they are experiencing is unhealthy behaviour. And then they have a choice of what to do next.
4. Supporting teen girls to build their confidence improves teenage friendship issues
When girls feel more confident in themselves, it helps to reduce teenage friendship issues.
When girls value themselves through embracing their own uniqueness and all the wonderful qualities they possess, they come from a position of strength.
Added to this, encouraging girls to become aware of and develop their own inner dialogue -“self-talk” – is key.
Asking girls whether what they say to themselves they would say to their best friend is a useful way to bring awareness to their self-talk.
Many girls have a grumpy, critical inner voice, and by evolving this being supportive and compassionate self-talk can really make a difference to how they feel about themselves, and so build their confidence.
If you’d like additional input to empower your daughter to develop her self-awareness, build kind self-talk and foster self-belief, I run online classes with girls aged 10-12 years old.
In the “Be Yourself. Love Yourself” online class I teach each girl to develop her self-awareness – enabling her to see her strengths, understand her uniqueness and become proud of her individuality.
Click on the image below for more details and to see upcoming dates.
There are more ideas and examples in this article Navigating Girls Friendships: A Guide for Parents