Lynn’s teenage daughter will head off to college in the fall. In her parent coaching sessions, Lynn expressed her hopes and fears about this exciting stage of her daughter’s life. Like many parents, she hopes her daughter will thrive socially, academically, and personally. She also fears her daughter might not be ready. She worries that her daughter may not have the social confidence or self-awareness that is required to create positive relationships. Through parent coaching, Lynn learned several practical strategies and insights to help her teen daughter prepare to navigate the exciting world of college friendships.
These practices can help you too! As you read through, consider how you can incorporate one or two practices into your parenting.
Self-awareness will help girls create positive friendships. Before heading off to college, remind your daughter of her strengths and how she can use those qualities to build strong relationships and tap into the courage to try new things. Talk about the positive social interactions she had in high school and those that were challenging. Help her identify the wisdom that came out of challenges and how she can use that wisdom to navigate the social waters of college. Remind her that college is a perfect time for self-discovery as most campuses will include people of different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. Encourage your daughter to embrace this diversity and seek out interactions with individuals from different backgrounds. This will not only broaden her self-awareness, it will also foster a deeper understanding of the world.
One of the best ways for girls to meet like-minded people and build friendships is by getting involved in campus clubs and organizations. On most campuses, there is a group for every interest, from academic societies and sports teams to cultural clubs and hobby-based organizations. Campus events are a great place for girls to engage with peers, discover new interests, and expand their social circle. As your daughter explores her passions and gets involved with clubs, events, or organizations at school, she will have an opportunity to learn more about herself, meet new people, and develop lasting friendships.
Teach Effective Communication
Effective communication is crucial for positive social interactions. Encourage your daughter to be open, kind, and respectful in her interactions with others. Teach her active listening skills and empathy so she can form deep connections. Talk about the power of kindness (download a Year in Focus for more on The Power of Kindness).
Identify Healthy Boundaries
In simple terms, a boundary identifies what is and is not OK in a relationship. Your daughter can begin to identify her boundaries when she reflects on how past experiences made her feel. A time she felt betrayed, pressured, or upset may be a place for a boundary. You can also engage in a conversation about boundaries by asking her what is and is not OK when it comes to friendships, romantic relationships, parties, and roommates. Finally, talk about ways in which she can clearly express her boundaries in various social situations.
With your support and guidance, your teen will navigate this exciting college journey and forge connections that will last a lifetime.