DIRECTOR OF STUDENTS
Teenagers friendships can be complex, intense and filled with unpredictable ups and downs. Even though we might wish they could “just get on with it”, most girls need our active guidance to problem solve daily challenges.
Teenage friendships can sometimes turn ‘toxic’. Or sometimes toxic friendships can develop if your daughter hangs out with ‘frenemies’ – teenagers who are mean to her.
Instead of making your daughter feel good – like she belongs and is accepted – toxic friendships can lead to your daughter having negative feelings about herself or others. That’s because toxic friends often put people down, manipulate them, leave them out or behave in other mean ways.
AVOIDING ‘FRENEMIES’ – HOW TO HELP YOUR DAUGHTER
- To help your daughter avoid toxic friendships, you can try talking with your daughter about what ‘good’ friends are like – they’re the ones who look out for her, care about her, include her in activities and treat her with respect. This will help her work out which people might be good to hang out with.
- Encourage your daughter to have a wide range of friends from a variety of places, like school, sports or social clubs, family friends and neighbours. This means she’ll have other people to turn to if something goes wrong with a friendship.
- When you get to know your daughter’s friends, you get the chance to quietly observe your daughter’s social interactions and pick up on any issues.
- Talking with your daughter can also give you the chance to start a conversation about how she’s going with her friends. Listen to your daughter and use open-ended questions. When you keep the lines of communication open, your daughter is more likely to talk with you about any problems that come up.
- As part of your talks, you could let your daughter know about your own friendship history. This might help her see other options and help her feel understood. Finally, you can be a role model for forming and maintaining positive relationships – with your own friends, partner and colleagues. Your daughter will learn from observing relationships where there’s ways of respect, empathy and positive resolving conflict.
DEALING WITH ‘FRENEMIES’ AND TOXIC FRIENDSHIPS
It’s a good idea to give your daughter the chance to sort out friendship issues herself before you step in. This can help her learn valuable life skills like conflict resolution, assertiveness and problem-solving. But when you feel you need to step in, here are some ideas.
CHANGING TOXIC RELEATIONSHIPS
If your daughter really wants to keep the friendship, help her find ways to change it. For example, can your daughter work out what’s causing the problems? It might be that a friend who makes a lot of negative comments about your daughter’s appearance gets away with it because your daughter isn’t clearly saying she doesn’t like it. Encourage your daughter to tell her friend to stop. Sometimes a bit of assertiveness is all that’s needed to stop unwanted behaviour. Sometimes frenemies act in negative ways because they get good reactions. You can use our problem-solving steps with your daughter to work out what the frenemy is getting out of the behaviour. Then you might be able to work out a solution. Using a witty comeback, being assertive, or walking away without comment can change the dynamic.
ENDING TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS
If your daughter is prepared to end the friendship, she needs to decide how to tell the frenemy. Your daughter might need to say something like, ‘I don’t like the way you gossip about me behind my back. Unless that changes, I can’t be your friend anymore’.
Be prepared for the fall-out from the end of a toxic friendship. The frenemy might try to make life difficult for your daughter. Watch out for any bullying or harassment, both face to face and online. If this happens, contact the college to work on a solution and talk with your daughter about this. Support your daughter by listening to what’s going on, trying to find solutions, and linking her in with support like her Head of House, if needed.
FINDING NEW FRIENDS
Your daughter might need to find new friends. This can be a daunting task, so here are some tips to help:
- Encourage your daughter to list all the other peers she could link up with. For example, does she sit with other students in other classes? Does she have one or two friends in another friendship circle, sporting club or activity outside school?
- Encourage your daughter to find ways to hang around with these other peers. This could be sitting together at lunch, working on assignments, or doing some social or sporting activities.
- Encourage her to find out about extracurricular activities available at school – for example, drama club, sporting groups, chess club and so on. Your daughter might be able to find others with shared interests.
- If you can, help encourage new friendships by making friends welcome at home, and encouraging your daughter to join in the college’s many extracurricular activities.
It might help your daughter to know that many teenage friendships don’t last. She might hang out with them for a while, but she’ll find people she has more in common with in the future. For more excellent information, go to: www.raisingdaughterren.net.au
DIRECTOR OF STUDENTS