Friendships are an essential part of childhood - but how can parents help when children fall out?
One minute several girls are as thick as thieves then there’s a disagreement and someone is no longer part of the group. Or “best friends” fall out and vow never to see or speak to each other again. When this happens, it’s usually families who bear the brunt.
Especially in their middle years – from about ten to 15 – children seek reassurance from their friends and measure themselves against them. Girls are often very judgemental often to their own disadvantage. Best friend Lucy is always prettier, better at games, more popular etc.
Young adolescents worry about what other people think about them and approval from their peer group is very important to them. What they need during these difficult times is constant reassurance and boosts to their self esteem and here the family plays a crucial role in maintaining a balance.
What kids need to know is that however popular or unpopular they think they are, you love and value them.
When arguments and disagreements occur:
Children who have outside interests and friends from different areas of their life tend to cope better with relationships. Being all day at school with a group of friends, and then seeing only them socially can be claustrophobic and a breeding ground for petty jealousies and disagreements.
Encourage your child to develop friendships in areas where her interests may lay – sports, music, faith groups, neighbours, and youth clubs – so that she has a network of friends and relationships outside school.
When to intervene
If your child is being bullied or physically attacked you need to take steps to protect her. You should contact the school, if appropriate, or take advice from a community leader or a help group like Childline. It may also be necessary or advisable to contact the police if there is any concern that the activities of a group of friends could make them vulnerable.