What makes a friend a good friend?
This is a great question to ask yourself at any age. Its never too late to create happy and healthy friendships. I like to use the metaphor that friendship is like a garden, if we get rid of the weeds (aka bad friend or frenemy) then there is more room for the flowers to grow (aka good friend). Your friendships can only grow if you spend time watering them, weeding and tending to them. With spring on the horizons this is a great time to plant some seeds and set intentions. Perhaps spend time with your child in the garden, plant some seeds and talk about what makes them a good friend to others and what makes a friend a good friend to them. Set the intention " I will be a good friend to others".
A frenemy uses friendship to put others down, gossip or exclude among other things and it can be really challenging for children to walk away from this relationship because they might be scared of being left out or because they dont want to hurt the offending child.
A good friend is someone who accepts you for who you are so you can just be yourself, A good friend is willing to support you by listening and being kind. They are honest and reliable and you can trust them. They say sorry if they hurt your feelings or make a mistake.
If your child is experiencing bulling or struggling with the complexities of social interaction there are things you can do to support them.
Stay calm and be brave
When we are faced with a challenging situation such as confrontation we tend to have BIG feelings like ANXIETY and ANGER. Regulating our own emotions means that we can stay in control and make good choices. Pause for a moment and take a couple of deep breaths before responding in a calm and confident manner. Using eye contact.
Encourage them to use their voice
If you haven't already teach your child how to be assertive. This is a life skills that some adults are still learning but if we can support our children to develop these social skills this will give them a great head start in life. Using 'I' statements , for example 'I dont like being called names, so stop now' If they haven't heard and they carry on repeat what you said again, this is called 'the broken record technique'. Role playing is helpful in order to develop skills and confidence.
Develop coping strategies
Utilise the support people you have around you. Talk to their teacher, coach, parent, ask them for help and explain the situation from your child's perspective. Help your child to find appropriate ways to avoid the frenemy and find alternative things to do when they're in the same setting such as reading, drawing or seeking another child to play with.
If all else fails be prepared to cut off contact and explain to your child that friendships sometimes come and go, if it gets to this point, provide extra love and support and validate their self-esteem and comfort them by listening acknowledging their feelings of hurt and sadness and allowing them to go though a grieving process.
If you have any questions or you would like more information about how you can support your child manage challenging situations book an appointment with Kat.