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September E-mail: Helping Your Child Handle Mean Girls and Frenemies

Posted Oct 05 2011 9:30am

Oct 5, 2011 by Olivia Chao | Categories , , , , ,

Parents! In case you didn’t see our September Parent E-mail, here it is. If you’d like to receive tips, tools and guidance for raising your tween, teen or young adult, please  sign up for our monthly parent e-mail .

September Email picDear Parents:

What makes a good friend?

This is something I’ve been discussing a lot lately with my 12-year-old twin daughters, Taylor and Kendall, as I help them navigate the ever-changing landscape of teen friendships.

( Download our Healthy Friendships Tipsheet-PDF )

Since starting middle school , my girls seem to have a “best friend” of the week.  While I think it’s terrific to make new friends, I want to make sure they aren’t ditching their old pals. “How would you feel if you were her?” I asked when they suddenly stopped being friends with a girl they’d been close with for years. I cannot tell them who to be friends with, but I can teach them to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

And then there’s the flip side - comforting your child when a friend turns on her.

( Blogger and friendship expert Dr. Irene S. Levine offers tips on cheering your child up when a friend lets her down .)

I remember when Kendall told me how two of her “friends” suddenly cast her out at the lunch table. “Who invited you to sit here?” they asked before telling her to leave. It was heartbreaking to hear.

( Don’t like your child’s friends? Mommy blogger Jenny Runkel offers 3 things you can do. )

I had to remind Kendall that girls in their teenage years can be mean and say hurtful things just to make themselves feel better.

( Ask these 20 questions to find out if your teen has a toxic friend .)

I try to encourage my girls to be kind to everyone, even if they don’t like the person. As cliché as it might sound, what comes around goes around.

( Mommy blogger Lisa Frederiksen shares this important parenting reminder: Teens Learn Best When the Going Gets Tough. )

Here are 8 ways to encourage healthy friendships:

1. Regularly talk about what true friendship means - and the qualities that are important in a friend.

2. Help your child recognize behaviors that do not make a good friend.

3. Let your child know if you disapprove of one of his or her friends (or a group of friends) and explain why.

4. Try to be a good role model and use your own relationships to show how healthy friendships look and feel.

5. Get to know the parents of your children’s friends.

6. Talk to your child frequently about everything from events of the day to his hope and dreams to dealing with peer pressure .

7. Know who your kids are hanging out with. (I don’t make my girls feel like I am being nosy but I do let them know that I have the right to check their phones, email and text messages should I feel the need to.)

8. Remind your child that that you are always there to lend an ear .

To me, a good friend is someone you can always count on. Someone who is there in the good times and bad. A true friend loves you for who you are and does not change how she feels based on what other people think.

Wishing you and your children shiploads of healthy friendships,

Senior Vice President & Director of Field Operations at The Partnership at Drugfree.org

Mother of Taylor (12) and Kendall (12)

P.S. Having great friends and colleagues is one of many reasons why I love my job at The Partnership at Drugfree.org.   I even made a video about it!

Related Links:

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New Campaign: You Are Not Alone

Redesigned: Time To Get Help (850 community members and counting)

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Make a Difference: Get Involved

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” - Oprah Winfrey

If you’d like to receive tips, tools and guidance for raising your tween, teen or young adult, please  sign up for our monthly parent e-mail .

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