A couple of years ago my elementary-aged daughter had a situation. There was a girl in her grade that she didn’t really like. The feeling was mutual. Their personalities clashed.
When I asked about her day she explained that she and the girl had taken part of their lunch to talk out their differences – teacher in the room, of course. They both agreed that they would probably not be friends, but that they could coexist and respect each other.
Okay, I know adults that aren’t this mature. I love that she owned her piece of the relationship, knew what she expected from her friends, and that while this girl didn’t fit her description, they didn’t have to be mean to each other.
Friendship issues are nothing new. There have been other instances since then, with her and my other girls. My goal is to help them manage school (and friend) relationships in a healthy manner. Here are some tips I found to help them along the way:
Social skills such as sharing, listening, apologizing when wrong, having empathy for others and being a good sport, are important. I encourage these behaviors.
Listen to my girls talk about friendship dynamics and offer helpful tips for navigating cliques, personalities and bullying. For instance, if someone is being mean or disrespectful, let her know that she is not obligated to stay in that situation. She can, and should, walk away.
Remind her that friendships take time and can’t be forced. It’s important to be patient, authentic and let the friendship grow organically. Also, let her know that not everyone will like her and that’s fine. Sometimes personalities clash.
If you’re looking for more tips, this article from pbs.org may help, Helping Elementary Schoolers Deal with Social Conflict. This is a great read, too, The Laws of Friendship.