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Teaching Self Esteem & About Friendship to Our Girls
Growing Friends - A Girl Thing
Forming good friendships in terms of building self-esteem in young, preteen, and teen-aged girls is vital to their happiness and success in life.
Yet, often we fail our girls, by not teaching them about:
- How to be a friend
- Why a friendship is a two-way street
- Equality in friendship
- What makes a good friendship
- How to make a friendship last
As parents and grandparents it is vital to teach our girls starting at a young age, the importance of being a good friend and maintaining healthy friendships.
It begins at an early age, in teaching our girls about self esteem and giving them tools to have self confidence.
Self Esteem Girls
True and Lasting Friendships
How to Be A True Friend
How to be a true friend, is something that we need to start teaching our girls at an early age, the younger the better. True friendship has a foundation in respect. It's important to teach our girls to:
- Respect their friends, by not talking behind their backs even when they are angry;
- Believe that their friend's intentions are always for the best;
- Respect their friend enough to accept an apology for a wrong;
- Respect their friend even when they are feeling jealous; and finally
- Respect themselves.
Why Friendship Is a Two-Way Street
Additionally, girls need to see friendship as a two-way street and learn the keys to how to be a good friend:
Those keys include:
- Friends need to be sensitive to what their friends are experiencing and going through;
- Friends require time, time doing things, even if there is nothing to do;
- Knowing a true friendship involves both parties being "themselves" at all times (not pretending to be someone they aren't or like something they don't just to preserve the friendship)
The Best Friend
Having a best friend is something that just about everyone -- girl, boy, man or woman -- desires. For girls, it's often vital to their self esteem, especially as they enter preteen and teen years. The square dance of life, best friends, is about not making that exclusive friendship so exclusive that it is the one and only friendship in a girl's life. That isn't healthy, that's dependency. If the friendship is based on dependency, and something happens to that friend or that friendship -- it can be devastating and leave a lifelong hurt.
Like an old fashioned square dance, best friends can not always feel as close one day to the next. Girls need to know this is a normal phenomenon. That's why they should be encouraged to not only have a "best friend" but several "best friends" -- so that they don't lose themselves, should the friendship end or fade.
One of the first things our girls need to know, is that best friends grow from their acquaintances and casual friends. Secondly, girls need to know that even best friends can change and that the friendship will change because of that fact.
Mutual Respect and Equity in Friendship
Mutual respect and equity in friendship takes patience and nurturing. Teach our girls that respect is something they must demand in friendships and give freely in friendship.
Jealousy In Friendship
Jealousy has no place in friendship and it's important to teach that to our girls. They need to know that this one thing that can poison and ruin a friendship. Our daughters and granddaughters, need to know that there will always be someone who has more than they do. Just like, there will always be other girls who has less than them. It goes back to teaching our children (boys and girls) the differences between needs and wants.
Overcoming jealousy is a difficult thing to teach and sometimes model for girls. Jealousy is sometimes rooted in poor self-esteem. Jealousy is also rooted in fears, both rational and irrational. it's one of life's most powerful emotions and helping our girls learn to fight this emotional demon can be one of the most challenging we may face when it comes to friendships with other girls.
The Ingredients of a Good Friendship
Just like baking a cake, the ingredients of a good friendship are key to a lasting friendship.
- Being someone who is there for both the good times and bad
- Being someone you can trust
- Being someone who won't judge you and accepts you for who you really are
- Being someone who won't deliberately hurt you
- Being someone who always tells you the truth
- Being someone who will listen when you need them to
- Being someone who will not betray you
- Being someone who is not an on-again/off-again friend
The Pressure About Looks On Girls
Sadly, bullies and bullying are making headlines across our nation. Let's take a look at why girl's in particular, are given to this behavior:
- Attention seeking
- To gain respect of peers (albeit false)
- To gain popularity among peers
- To make themselves feel superior
- To deal with their own feelings of jealousy
- To deal with their own lack of self esteem
- Because their friends are also bullying
It's important to make our daughters and granddaughters understand that bullying is cruelty, teasing, hitting, and worse. It may surprise them to know that bullying also involves:
- Name calling
- Telling lies about someone
- Spreading rumors
- Excluding someone
- Picking on someone for being different than them or their friends
- Text-messaging mean or unkind words
- Internet and phone calls of an unkind nature
The Importance of Teaching Girls - To Try New Things
Key to self esteem, is the learning process that occurs when girls try new things. If a your girl fears failure, or worries about looking foolish, or is constantly always trying to please others -- she may shy away from trying new things.
Learning new things is something that occurs in spurts, and one way to inspire this confidence builder is to find new experiences for our daughters that help them expand their self-imposed limits.
One of the ways you can encourage her to do this -- is to create a safe environment in which to try new things. Above all don't let her give up!
The Importance of Keeping Her Secrets
When you keep your girls secrets, you are saying indirectly that you respect her decisions and confidence. It is important to keep her secrets and confidences just as though it were something a treasured friend shared with you.
By showing her you respect her, you are showing her that she is worthy of such respect. One way to help your girls is to have a casual discussion about secrets and what they are. Talk about if keeping secrets is good or bad?
The Importance of Teaching the Difference between Cliques and a Group of Friends
One of the most important insights you can give your daughter is how to know the difference between being in a clique or being with a group of friends.
Group friendships are important and good, while cliques are neither normal or healthy. It's hard to convey to young girls that subtle difference, when wanting to belong and fit in are so important to their self esteem.
Being a friend, within a group of friends can:
- Help your daughter develop relationship skills
- Give support
- Get support
- Share ideas and accomplishments
- Share common interests
- Just be fun
However, unhealthy group friendships, that go out of their way to not include anyone new, or anyone who is not a part of the "group" is clearly a clique.
Girls within these cliques can often be mean, purposely hurt others, exclude other girls, and sometimes even victimize or bully both girls outside the clique and the weaker members inside the clique.
Help your girls by:
- Teaching them to respect themselves
- Keeping them involved in activities and interests that make them feel good about themselves
- Encouraging them to always be open to new friendships
- Speaking up and speaking out. if one of their friends is treating another person wrong
- Teaching them to think for themselves
- Being the kind of friend that they would like their friends to be for them
Teach By Example The Power of Words
Words are powerful and with our girls they are explosively powerful. Hurtful words can cut wounds that last a life-time. Girls especially learn early that words are how they judge themselves.
They decide their self-image by what others say to them and about them.
Teach your girls that we say, and how we say it, can do either harm or good. Choose your words carefully, and teach your daughters to choose their own words carefully.
The Importance of Teaching Without Criticism
Finally, it's easy, especially in those challenging pre-teen and teen years to get stuck in the mode of noticing the mistakes and not so nice little habits our girls have. Some parents can't seem to help themselves and nag, complain, correct, demand, etc.
It is important to teach without criticism using that same positive reinforcement we used when our children were very little.
One way of teaching without criticism is to ignore everything your daughter does that drives you crazy (within reason). Look for ways to catch her doing something right and forget that she forgot her gym uniform at school, didn't bring home her math book, left a mess in the kitchen -- and focus on what she did right today -- and casually compliment her on them as they occur.
Another way to teach without criticism is to watch your wording. Just eliminating the one word "don't" and replacing that with "remember to" can create a small miracle in a short time. So instead of saying,
"Don't forget to do bring home your study guide for tomorrow's test" -- try saying, "Remember to bring home your study guide for tomorrow's test." A good life and good relationships with our daughters often is in the details.