Today a reader asks me how to help with her daughter best friend problems
My daughter is in her first year at secondary school and she still hasn’t found a bestie, this keeps her awake at night and causes anxiety. How can I help?
Best Friend Problems
Ah friendships – they are so very important to our children aren’t they and a key part of their security, and happiness.
A normal stage and response
If you daughter is seeing others find their besties (which tweens often desperately seek in their first scary year at secondary school) she is almost bound to feel left out and little panicky if it’s not happening for her. There is SO much emphasis put on having a BFF by younger girls and once they find one they are often keen to announce their BFF status to the world, loud and proud which just adds fuel to fire of jealousy and or insecurity for those without. Your child’s feelings are quite normal and obviously unpleasant and it is so valid you acknowledge this and are looking for wats to support her.
A space and a place to talk
My advice would be to give her a space and place to talk this over with you so you can offer comfort and reassurance. Don’t let this become bigger than it is though and after listening and comforting do move the conversation on to more positive topics where your daughter feels strong and capable and good about herself.
You could say ‘what made you laugh at school today?’ ‘What was our best subject today’ If this doesn’t work to shift her mood, do something fun together or watch a comedy, have a good laugh and move her mind away from her worries. Dwelling for too long is counterproductive – it can just make a perceived problem even bigger.
A good nights sleep
Try not to have these conversations just before bed though. perhaps schedule a time to talk over worries early evening. Then end the evening with fun, relaxing activities and a clear bedtime routine. Any worries that are raised at night can just be jotted into a worry journal with a promise they will be discussed the following evening. Worry dolls can be great for telling worries to then she would simply pop then under the pillow whilst she sleeps leaving her mind unburdened as they ake the worries away. Props like journals and dolls can really help.
Flip the focus
How about flipping the focus.
Encourage your daughter to focus on BEING a good friend rather than seeking a good friend. Have her look at how she empathises, shares, cheers on, encourages and cares about and for others. Encourage her to try new things so she meets more people and encourage her to have a variety of playdates and open up her social circle.
But, above all teach her to value herself.
Friendships come and go but she will always have herself. She needs to like herself and value herself and look to her strengths. That best-friend will come in time.
The Friendship Maze
One exclusive best friend can cause heartache if there is a fall out. A number of good friends are a much safer bet. Help your child understand this and see YOU enjoy multiple friendships with a variety of people too, explain some of these are close friends, some are simply friends for now, some are just having fun with friends. Let her see that friendship can take many forms all of which have value.
Tanith Carey great book about friendship The Friendship Maze is a really valuable resource on kids and friendship and packed with tips to help you both through this.
I hope this helps your daughter
More friendship resources
I created a pack of Healthy Friendship cards to help children and their families explore healthy friendships – its full of conversation prompts and questions to really help your family/ your classroom explore friendships and how you can make them healthier and stronger.