• Talk to your daughter about friendships
and conflicts. Let her know that
conflict and changes in friendships are normal. Explain that conflicts do not mean a friendship is
over. Tell her that friendships
sometimes end naturally. Don’t let
her or yourself mistakenly interpret all rejection as relational aggression.
• Listen to your daughter. Name and validate her feelings,
especially the “messy” ones such as jealousy and anger.
• Help your daughter to see others’
perspectives and motivations. Suggest
possible reasons for other girls’ behavior, but don’t explain away cruelty.
• Tell your daughter about your own
experiences with friendships and conflicts and how you dealt with them.
• Model appropriate ways to express anger
and resolve conflicts, including conflicts between you and her.
• Teach your daughter to be assertive, to
speak up and express her feelings in all relationships, starting with family
relationships. But prepare her for
the sometimes unpleasant consequences of being assertive.
• Encourage and role play with your
daughter how to talk directly to a friend about a problem.
• Distinguish for your daughter the
difference between being “nice” and being a doormat. Make sure she does not feel compelled to stay in friendships
that are routinely hurtful and one-sided just to “be nice.”
• Realize that forbidding your daughter
to be friends with someone may backfire.
• Respect your daughter’s right to make
mistakes. She cannot always be
protected from hurt feelings.
Resist the impulse to solve all of her problems for her.
• Avoid games, toys, TV/movies and web
sites that reinforce gender-stereotyped messages about girls’ behavior and help
your daughter think critically about these messages.
• Discourage your daughter from getting
involved as messengers or as allies, or from being a messenger.
• Explain to your daughter why it is best
for her to stay out of others’ conflicts unless she is standing up for a victim
of relational aggression. But
prepare her for the consequences of getting involved.
confront the other child, and be wary of confronting the child’s parent.
• Monitor phone calls, e-mails, instant
messages and text messages, and sleepovers!
• Provide many opportunities for your
daughter to be involved with girls from different groups so has a wide base for
• Make sure your child has a chance to
develop her skills and talents so her self-esteem is not tied solely to who her
friends are or what clique she’s in.
• Do not own your daughter’s conflicts or
react more intensely to events that she is. These disproportionate responses confuse children. “Check your baggage.” *Rosalind Wiseman
• Notify the school if your daughter is a
victim of relational aggression at school.
• Seek counseling support if you are
concerned about your daughter’s well-being.
• Seek counseling support if you suspect
your daughter is a perpetrator of relational aggression.
Ó2007 by Catherine Mallam
All Rights Reserved