Friendship can require a lot of work even in the best of times. As teenage girls grow older, friends may come and go while other friendships become tense and strained. Teaching your daughter how to handle difficult people, and even how to empathize with her friends' struggles, can rescue and enhance a friendship.
Talk to your teenage daughter about the difficulties she is experiencing with her friend. Are there common sources of arguments in the relationship, like rivalries over grades or boys? If your daughter is at odds with a friend over interests and how to spend time, they may have outgrown each other, according to the Center for Young Women's Health, a teen resource from Boston Children's Hospital. In that case, it may be best to end the friendship.
Encourage your daughter to think about what is happening in a difficult friend's life. Is the friend depressed over a death in the family, angry about a recent breakup, or grieving about something else? Rather than avoid a difficult friend, your daughter may benefit from encouraging her friend to seek professional help, according to Dr. Frederic Reamer, a professor of social work at Rhode Island College. This may lead to a more laid-back friendship in the future.
Suggest that your daughter have a talk with her difficult friend. While your teenager may think she knows why a friend is upset, only her friend can say for sure. Keeping calm is important during this discussion. Your daughter might say, "I've noticed that you turn down my ideas when we work on projects together. Did I do something to upset you?" If an offense was made, your daughter should apologize and agree to avoid making a similar mistake in the future, according to TeensHealth, part of the KidsHealth.org child-development site.
Help your daughter work on a solution, rather than seeking revenge. While your daughter may want to behave in a difficult manner to give a friend a taste of her own medicine, it will likely backfire. Encourage your teenager to behave in the way she wants to be treated by others. Remind your daughter often that she cannot control a friend's behavior -- only her own reaction to it.
Teach your daughter to set boundaries with a friend. Some difficult friends may frequently fight with others. If a difficult friend draws your daughter into such a situation, she may be better off saying, "We will talk about this tomorrow when we have cooled down," according to the Center for Young Women's Health. Not only will showing others how she expects to be treated earn your daughter some respect, but setting boundaries can make fights dull for difficult people.
- Never criticize your teen's friends. This can cause fights between you and your daughter, warns the New York University Child Study Center. If a friend's behavior concerns you, you might say, "I've noticed that Jill frequently calls you names when she visits." This can give your teen an opening to talk about a difficult friend in a safe atmosphere.
- TeensHealth: Coping with Cliques
- TeensHealth: About Getting and Giving Help
- Center for Young Women's Health: Friendships
- American Psychological Association: Schoolyard Blues: Impact of Gossip and Bullying
- PBS: What is a struggling teen?
- TeensHealth: I Hurt my Friends' Feelings. What Should I Do?
- Center for Young Women's Health: Healthy Relationships
- NYU Child Study Center: The Ups and Downs of Friendships: When Parents Don't like Their Child's Friends
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