Friends – there is very little on the planet that is better than a good friend. Someone that you can trust, talk to about anything and someone who is there no matter what. This semester our after school classes in Rye are focusing on Friendship – how to make and keep a friend, navigating conflict successfully, what qualities to look for in a true friend, communication and self-esteem within friendships. These skills are incredibly important for children to learn as they go through their elementary, middle school and high school years. It will help them make good decisions and work through situations with friends as they arise throughout their lives. As parents, what can we do to support them and guide them in a healthy and productive way through these years? Here are some ideas to help you along the way…
Be your daughter’s role model. You are the person that your daughter will look to and imitate. Show her good, positive social behavior. Be kind to others, talk to many different parents, do not gossip about others and above all listen to her. Help guide her about what you do in certain social situations.
Tell you daughter that they do not have to be friends with everyone but they have to respect everyone. We see this throughout our lives. Inherently there are people that we just do not click with, whether it is having different interests or just having a different perspective on life. This is not right or wrong, it is just life but the way that we deal with these situations is what is important. In class we do role-plays with our students to work through situations that are commonplace in their lives and to show them what kindness and respect look like. If you have certain situations that you know are occurring in your daughter’s life, discuss with her how to show kindness and respect to someone regardless of whether or not they are good friends.
Help guide her to solve her problem independently. Lawrence Cohen, PhD, psychologist and author of “Playful Parenting” says, “I am more of a believer in getting elementary-school girls to do their own thinking and helping them brainstorm solutions, even if they are different from the parent solutions. Guiding her to solve it independently (with a little help from you) will help her far more than you rushing to call the other girls’ parents.” Here are some questions that might help her solve the problem:
“What did you try?”
“How did it work?”
“What else can you try?”
“These questions help parents get out of the trap of telling kids what to do,” says Cohen. Even if the answer to the first question is ‘nothing,’ your second question then becomes, ‘How did nothing work?’ ” These coping skills will help your daughter have a sense of control over the situation as well as teach her a positive way to work through social issues as they arise. Also, make sure that as parents you separate your own emotions from your daughter’s social life.
These life skills will help our daughters have a positive social life by knowing how to consciously solve problems, make decisions and deal with whatever situations are thrown their way.
—Mary & Claire