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Teen Friendships: Helping Teenage Girls Through Friend Drama

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Teenagers | 0 comments

During the teen years, friendships are a primary source of happiness, security, and identity. However, teen friendships are complex and frequently changing.  Adding to that, they are quite different for boys and girls. Conditions and covert aggression can plague a friendship between females.  It is not unusual for girls to use friendship as a weapon.  If your daughter finds herself in this type of situation, she is likely to feel bewildered, anxious, stressed, or full of overwhelming sadness.  Unless she feels safe enough to open up to you, you are likely to experience more reactivity at home, aggression or distractions at school, or an avoidance of social activities.  

 

Erin had a history of “girl-drama.” In middle school, the girls she thought were her friends started to randomly make fun of her and leave her out. Understandably, Erin was desperate to know why. Why did these girls frequently and randomly decide to leave her out or call her names? Using social media as her shield, she would inquire tirelessly, “What’s wrong?” “Why aren’t you including me?” “What did I do?”  Sometimes the girls would respond with cold, curt responses and deny any wrong doing, which would make Erin feel crazy.  Other times, they were straight-up mean. Telling her she was annoying and lying all the time.  Using words as their weapons, Erin found herself in an unwinnable war with a group she thought were her friends.  No matter how mean they were to her, she could not let them go. She could not move on.  Her parents wondered why she seemed so sad and frequently asked her to stay home from school or skip practice.  They worried and wanted to know how to help.    

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Parent Coaching Tips on Teen Friendships

 

When girls are going through friend drama, they have an opportunity to learn how to deal with difficult people, strengthen their sense of self, and define what is important in a friend.   As always, parents play a key role in coaching their daughters through friend challenges.    

 

  • Model positive relationships and calm conflict resolution.  Consider how your friendships show your daughter how to handle change and challenge. How do you and your friends support each other and lift each other up? 
  • Talk about characteristics of best friends, good friends and pretty good friends.  When you engage in discussions, or simply “think aloud” about your own relationships, you are providing your daughter with a framework and teaching her language that will support her in choosing good friends. 
  • List the pros and cons of a friendship full of ups and downs.  If your daughter is on the brink or in the thick of friend drama, writing or talking out the pros and cons to a friendship can help her get to the bottom of the issue and determine her best next steps.
  • Identify qualities of friendships or groups that make her feel good and those that don’t.  This may be inspired by the list of pros and cons. You can also point out the qualities that make her a good friend and ask her what she values and expects from those she calls friends.

 

Never underestimate the impact friend drama has on your teen.  It can be hard on you too! Do your best to offer nonjudgmental support and open-hearted listening. Use the drama as an opportunity to learn important lessons about friendship and build social resilience. 

*This is an excerpt from my book: Power Up Your Parenting 

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