As young girls transition from childhood to adolescence, the ability to create and maintain friendships can become more difficult for your daughter as the social dynamic shifts. As children, friendships may have seemed easier to develop, but this is partly due to adults cultivating and managing the friendships.
As children grow older, they are more in control of friendships and are able to make independent decisions in managing these friendships. Some children handle this transition well, while others can struggle to make and keep friends. Because developing meaningful relationships is such a huge part of young girls’ lives, it can be helpful to know how to help your daughter develop friendships if she is struggling with this transition.
How to make positive relationships and friendships for young girls
The power of positive friendships has been well documented with research showing that friends improve our self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety and depression, help us develop empathy, and improve our overall well-being. In order to reap the benefits of friendships, young girls must develop certain social skills through awareness, guidance, and practice, which parents can help facilitate.
Ask your child to spend some time reflecting on what friendship means to her. Have her point out what makes a good friend vs a bad as well as have her internally reflect on the qualities she possesses that could make her a good friend to others. This internal reflection can help your daughter gain self-awareness and select friends that align with her values rather than just a common interest.
Once values have been identified, open up a conversation about attachment and how not every friend has to become a BFF. Many children who struggle with friendships also tend to latch onto the first person who shows them positive attention. This can create further issues such as jealousy and insecurity when their best friend has other friends. Instead, encourage diversity in friendships including a wide range of your daughter’s interests to help form healthy attachments.
Another way you can help your child develop friendships is by teaching your teen appropriate communication skills. Learning how to chat and small talk with others is a learned skill and not something that is innate in humans. This can be particularly difficult with shy tweens, so practice conversations about light subjects such as music, movies, or enjoyed activities. Role-playing conversations can help kids to feel more confident engaging in real-life conversations with peers.
Once your teen has created friendships, help her to understand that conflict is a normal and natural part of friendships and that a conflict doesn’t necessarily signify the end of a relationship. Instead help her practice de-escalating language, such as “I’m feeling really hurt, can we start over?” or “We might be misunderstanding each other, let’s pause for a minute.” Teaching conflict management strategies can help your daughter build stronger, longer-lasting friendships.
If your daughter is struggling to form and maintain healthy friendships and relationships in her life, a program like Asheville Academy could help her restore and build meaningful connections.
Asheville Academy Can Help
Asheville Academy is the leading therapeutic boarding school for girls aged 10-14. Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, our private 97-acre campus provides a tranquil environment where students can reflect, heal, and overcome emotional and academic challenges.
Our relationship-based program is uniquely designed to help younger students develop the skills to expand their resiliency, manage and communicate their emotions, and strengthen their relationships with themselves and others. For more information, please call (828) 414-2951.