I am 35 now and have two girls in school. A third one will be there before long. To be honest I did not have the best experience in school as a child and teenager. I rarely reminisce about those days nor have a desire to live them again. Now that I have girls in school I remember how tough it was.
My oldest is in fourth grade and she is awesome. She is also a typical strong-willed first child. Second grade was such a rough year. There was one girl in the class that was water and my daughter was oil. I remember on multiple occasions my wife sharing how this girl would call my oldest at night and apologize for how she treated her. It was crazy! Just the other night we were sitting at the table with our kids and one of the daughters shared how her low of the day was not getting along with her friend. Early this year my wife shared how one afternoon she held one of our daughters as she cried because she had a rough day at school. I do not believe our girls are atypical. I imagine so many of you have your own stories of your girls in school.
Girls in school don’t have it easy as they navigate friendships!
The first thing we need to do as parents with girls in school is recognize it is difficult. Your daughters will come home crying eventually and at times they may not want to go back to school. Having our girls in school come home crying has been so hard. It absolutely breaks my heart and as a father all I want to do is fix it! So what can we do? If your like me you want to become the helicopter parent but we know that is not healthy.
Some advice to help your girls in school navigate those difficult times:
- Love on them. You can never give your girls in school to much affection and affirmation. Help them know that navigating friendships is tough and that they aren’t weird. Send notes in their lunch box letting them know you love them and why they are special. The more you love on them and affirm them the more secure they will become in themselves and they will not look to the friendships as much for their affirmation.
- Teach them what it means to be a good friend. Believe it or not this does not always come natural. For some kids they are extremely likable and will never have trouble making friends but for others they need all the help they can get. For instance one of our girls in school thought that they were being a good friend by always telling the other kids when they were doing things wrong. She thought it was the loving thing to do. We have had to work with her on when to open her mouth and when not to. Teach your girls what it means to be a friend.
- Have fun with them. On those rough days when your girls in school come home and things have been awful do something fun. Go get a treat, get out of the house, watch a comedy and just be with them. The difficulty of the day will fade away as they enjoy the presence and security of their mommy and daddy.
- Only when absolutely necessary intervene. Don’t be a helicopter parent and swoop in to save the day. This stunts your daughters development by not allowing her to learn through the difficulty. There may be a time because of her safety or because it is becoming to overwhelming that you will need to talk to a teacher or another parent. Make this the last resort though. Help your girls in school grow to where they can navigate these tough times on their own. Always be there to hug them, say “I love you” and offer support.
Our girls in school will go through tough times with friends but it will pass. When you love on them and help them through they will grow into strong secure girls which is what we all want in the end!