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 most 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.
These issues can be a source of sorrow, hurt, loneliness, confusion, and sometimes tragically a lot more. The difficulties around teenage friendship issues can affect girls deeply, as well as impacting on classmates, and families. The tension and difficulties inevitably affects school life too, and can impact students’ progress at school.
As a teacher it can be time-consuming and emotionally draining to support girls to navigate these teenage friendship issues
So what can teachers do to empower teen girls to develop the skills and mindset to navigate their teenage friendship issues?
This blog outlines four ideas teachers can experiment with.
Consistent with the approach we use in our workshops, these are posed as coaching questions to enable you to adapt the ideas and find the best approach for you and your students.
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.
When a student reaches out to you for support for her teenage friendship issues, how can you empower her to value herself? For example, can you encourage her to recognise her own uniqueness, leading to her valuing qualities in herself as an individual?
A crucial first step for her friendships to be more positive.
2. Understanding we can’t control other people
Many adults – myself included – have to learn this over and over. But it’s so true! All we can do is control our thinking and behaviour in any given situation. We cannot control the behaviour of another person.
By understanding that we’re unable to control others, and focusing instead on our own mindset and behaviour creates opportunities to have healthy, positive relationships.
For teenage friendship issues, teachers can guide girls to focus on their own reaction and the actions they are taking.
What can you do to support a student to understand this?
3. Recognising unhealthy behaviour can be part of teenage friendship issues
With teenage friendship issues there can be unhealthy behaviours going on. To guide teen girls there are two aspects to consider:
- Realising we all have choices in our relationships.
- Recognising unhealthy behaviour when we experience it – and how different it feels to healthy behaviour.
Ultimately if we choose to consistently tolerate unhealthy behaviour in relationships it can affect our feelings of self-worth.
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.
Developing this type of self-awareness is fundamental to building girls’ confidence, and self-belief in themselves. This is one aspect of the on demand materials in Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence.
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.
Exercises and resources on these topics are included in the Teacher resources for building girls’ confidence.
Ultimately, by building her own confidence, a teenage girl is in a stronger positon to make wise friendship choices.
Building girls’ confidence is fundamental to the Confident Teens’ ethos that “prevention is better than cure”.
You can see a taster lesson on self-awareness by clicking below.