Teenage friendships - building confidence and mutual respect...
Written by Alun Jones on 04/08/2012
Q. My beautiful 15 year old daughter perceives she has a label at school as teacher’s pet and is struggling with a couple of girls who have ‘stopped’ her moving to a new friendship group so now she feels she is unable to. She is slim, beautiful, swims well & dances beautifully. Both these girls are not as lucky as her but seem to give her a hard time. She does get very stressed with life & it is hard to know if she maybe is also giving them a hard time. How do I support her to have the confidence to move into sixth form & make some new friends with those who may join the school? She sees the negative in most things and we are struggling to communicate with her as well!!
A. Please be assured you are most certainly not alone!
I am sure your daughter’s talents exceed well beyond her outward appearance and that she is supportive of those less fortunate. It is of course important that girls acknowledge their many attributes with a sense of integrity and humility when dealing with others. As long as this is the case, do reassure your daughter that her many talents and interests will stand her in good stead. It is a reality though that some girls find it more difficult than others to celebrate or congratulate the success and talents of their peers, they inevitably feel threatened and can sometimes set about manipulating friendships accordingly. Your daughter should be encouraged to have high expectations of all she does but, at the same time, remember that integrity, kindness and understanding of those who may not ultimately be part of her group are equally important life skills.
Schools work hard in equipping girls with the skills to deal effectively with evolving friendships and help to guide girls as to how to move on to new relationships kindly. At the same time it is important that we encourage our students’ resilience. If you feel your daughter has appropriate levels of resilience at this time do encourage her to work through this episode of her life with strength and confidence. How she reacts and behaves now will prove an important stepping stone when dealing with similar situations in the future and there will be many!
Do remember that you do not have to face this dilemma alone. Do talk to the teachers at your daughter’s school that have specific responsibility for her pastoral care and well being. Enquire whether your daughter’s perceptions are accurate and whether she does on occasions ‘give as good as she gets’ as you fear. They will most certainly be able to guide your daughter’s teachers should she be the focus of an inappropriate label.
Moving into the sixth form is an exciting, but sometimes apprehensive, time for girls. It is important that as parents you encourage, support and nurture the confidence that will promote your daughter’s adaptability, open mindedness and pro-active attitude towards meeting new people and forging new friendships. School life and friends’ 16th birthday parties offer a relatively safe environment to hone such skills. Such skills will prove invaluable at university and in the world of work when it is highly likely that your daughter will be competing on the global stage working on projects that span different cultures and time zones.
Consistency is vital. Keep channels of communications open as this is a vitally important and influential time in your daughter’s life. It is part of our role as grown-ups to reinforce young people’s value to the world, keep them grounded and help them to see their glass well and truly half full!
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