Does anyone else say that in a Joey from friends way?
So it’s December already, how did that happen? It’s the month of chocolate for breakfast, mischievous elves, performances at school and decorating trees. And it’s only the first week!
In the Facebook group this week, I dropped a video (check it out here) about mean statements and how to deal with them. So I thought I would expand on friendships, as these can be hard work, whether its as a parent or a teacher, as well as exhausting!
The backbone of resilience is a connection, building those relationships around our children. Whether that is extended family, teachers and those people who teach our kids after school with dance, football, karate, or cycling lessons. One of the most important connections for them is with their friends. As they reach the teen years, every fibre in their DNA will want to pull away from us as parents to identify with their peer group. This is the survival of the species! Not great for us as parents though, to watch them take more notice of their mates than they do of us.
Friendship issues with kids can be as dramatic as watching an episode of Game of Thrones, one minute they are besties and next they are arch enemies! Here are some top tips for when it all goes a bit mother of Dragons
Listen – it is so tempting to step in and offer our opinion of Tommy or Sarah but don’t. Tomorrow they will be friends and your kid won’t forget what you said. As easy as this step sounds we come with our own baggage of school days and those feeling of someone being mean or being left out. Our brain will kick into fight and flight mode and then we start to interrupt or worse try and fix the problem for them. So try and be mindful of what’s yours and what’s theirs and above all – pin your ears back and just listen.
Empathise – this is a really important part of moving them out of that stuck in the situation feeling to working through the problem. When we empathise, it helps to emotionally regulate from a place of fight and flight to a decision-making process. It lets them know they are being heard and seen, which isn’t that what we all want as humans? A really nice side effect of empathy is that it strengthens that bond with our kids too.
Question -not about who did what, but about how they feel, helping them gain insight into themselves and the situation. Use open ended questions such as “what hurts the most?” or “how do you think they feel now?” etc.
Problem solving – this is not you! #justsayin – invite them to problem solve. This is about this as an opportunity to empower them to sort it themselves. You are their sounding board right now, not their fixer. We don’t want them sat in how they feel too long but actively looking at how they can move forward.
Insight – again this is not you offering your problem-solving skills but letting them know it’s ok to take time to work it out. It can also be a great reminder to use “I” statements, getting them to reflect on their role in what happened. It can also be a good time to remind them that they could try and work it out with a friend, they don’t have to solve this by themselves.
Hope this helps and you don’t have the drama of a Netflix special. Remember the kids are tired it’s speeding towards the end of term, end of the year. Routines are messed up with practising for performances, making Christmas cards, and generally, everyone is tired and often ratty. Go gentle on yourselves as 2021 comes to an end.
Don’t forget to drop me a message if you want me to look at an issue in more detail.