How can I help my daughter make friends?


Today’s question: “My daughter is 9 years old and doesn’t seem to have any friends. There are girls in the neighborhood we carpool with, and kids she goes to school, gymnastics, and temple with, but she doesn’t seek these kids out on the weekends or after school. At recess or on weekends, she prefers playing by herself. Her brother, on the other hand, is always with friends: riding bikes, skateboarding, and generally having an active social life. I’m worried that my daughter isn’t going to have close friendships. She’s very opinionated, strong willed, and doesn’t like to compromise, so I understand why other kids may not choose to play with her. She doesn’t seem as bothered by this as I am. She likes to read and be by herself, while I’m the one scheduling play dates. How can I make my daughter make friends?”  Lea

Parent Educator Answer: It sounds like you are doing everything you can to support your daughter’s friendships. It’s wonderful that you have arranged so many opportunities for her to socialize and become familiar with other kids.

Between the ages of 3-9, most girls develop friendships based on proximity and convenience. They don’t discriminate easily and are usually happy to play with whoever is happy to play with them. Birthday parties can be huge during these years because it’s hard for kids to choose which friends they like best.

Between the years of 10-12 (once puberty begins) girls tend to want a smaller, more intimate group of friendships they can build closer bonds with. Developmentally, they are practicing intimate relationships by creating a more manageable group of girls they feel comfortable with. It’s common in these years to have hurt feelings as girls get edged out and left out while best friends are created. It is normal, however, for some girls not to be interested in forming these intimate relationships. In every class, there’s always at least one girl who is happy to play with whoever shows up. She doesn’t mind hanging with a different kid everyday, or even none at all. These kids are valuable assets for to those who have recently been rejected by their friend group. 

From what I hear in Lea’s question, there are at least 5 perfectly healthy reasons why this kid might not like playing with other kids:

  1. She hasn’t entered the stage yet of wanting an intimate friendship or friend group.
  2. She may be the type of kid who is comfortable with acquaintences rather than close friends.
  3. She is exhausted from being around kids all day long and needs time alone to recuperate.
  4. It’s more important for her to be able to hear and execute her own ideas while playing, than to expend energy compromising and explaining her thoughts to others.
  5. She hasn’t found a friend yet that allows her to be fully herself.

Kids who have strong ideas and opinions often enjoy the company of younger children. Younger kids are so excited to have the attention of a big kid, that they are willing to compromise more than children of the same age are. Little kids love the creative ideas for play that big kids come up with, and don’t mind being told what to do. Older kids can make great babysitters or mother’s helpers because they get to play the role of leader, boss, or director that they were born to play.

 

Life Coaching Answer: When our kids don’t have meaningful friendships, this can be a big trigger for moms who place a high value on friendship. It is really easy to “futurize” and “catastrophize”, imagining that they’ll never have friends and be sad and socially rejected all through adolescence. Moms can worry that their kids will ALWAYS struggle to make friends and believe this is a huge problem that needs immediate attention and intervention. 

First, we have to look at the problem that is CURRENTLY presenting itself. We cannot fix a problem in the future that hasn’t happened yet (and may never happen) and trying to do so will make us crazy.

The circumstance here, is that Lea’s daughter is 9. She hasn’t entered puberty yet. She likes reading books (a solitary activity), she doesn’t seek out playdates, she is surrounded by family members and family acquaintances almost every moment of every day, and she prefers to play by herself at recess, after school, and on weekends.

We want to take a look at what mom actually has control over. Can she make her daughter make friends? No. She can arrange playdates, carpools & neighborhood gatherings so her daughter has exposure to other kids and becomes familiar with the people in her life. She can sign her up for summer camps and gymnastics classes, but how her daughter interacts with the kids while there is not within mom’s control.

One thing we mammas do have control over is how we interpret our kid’s social relationships. Without meaning to, Lea may be communicating the idea that “there is something wrong with her daughter” because she doesn’t have the quality and quantity of friendships that her brother has. Can you imagine that there is an introverted mom out there in the world who loves to read, be by herself, and sees nothing wrong with her 9 year old avoiding social interaction? We have no idea how this girls social relationships will change with puberty, middle school or high school. This is a time of rapid development! After a day of obeying teachers and following their curriculum, she may have a higher need of listening to her own voice, directing others, or dwelling in her imagination.

It has never been easier to find one’s tribe than it is today. If you don’t fit in with the tribe of people around you, meetup, tinder, or youtube will help you find your village and connect you with people who appreciate your authentic self. Rather than thinking, “this is a problem that needs fixing”, try thinking thoughts that make you feel at ease.

“She is surrounded by people who love her.”

“She will find her people someday.”

“She is so true to herself that when she finds someone who likes her, they will really genuinely like her.”

“If she’s ok playing by herself, I can be ok with it, too.”

“I’ve done everything I can think of, the rest is up to her.”

“If she wants better friendships, she’ll be motivated to compromise.”

When you feel at ease around your daughter’s social dynamics, you communicate the message that there is nothing wrong with her the way she is. This gives her acceptance and belonging; the whole point of friendships in the first place!

 

Supermom kryptonite: worrying

I used to think that “good moms” worried about their kids. It seemed the opposite of neglect. When my worrying turned into anxiety, I had to make a change. What I’ve learned is that worrying is terrible for kids and robs us of our ability to enjoy our lives. Worrying is imagining bad things happening. Focusing on everything that can go wrong drains our energy and keeps us from appreciating when everything is going right. Once I stopped worrying, I was floored at how much more productive I was throughout my day, how much more energy I had, and how relaxed I was able to feel.

 

Supermom power boost: yoga

All exercise is good for us but yoga seems to be especially beneficial for overworked mammas. My theory is that yoga turns our attention inwards. With kids around, your attention is constantly being pulled outside of yourself. Even when we aren’t with them, we think about them, talk to our friends and partners about them, and get annoyed with them for leaving their mess all over the floor. Yoga brings your attention into your body, focusing on the subtleties of movement, muscles, positioning, and breath. This forced self attention and flowing movement re-energies us in ways beyond a typical workout. In my opinion, yoga is a quick and reliable energy boost.

 

Quote of the Day – “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. 
Keep in the sunlight.” ― Benjamin Franklin

 

 

Do you want your life to be even better? Study Success

Life is pretty good, right?

You’ve got a lovely family, meaningful work, but you’d like to turn the volume up on your life. One way to improve your life is to study successful people. Find someone you admire and pay close attention to WHY you like them so much. I recently attended a memorial service for an AMAZING women. 

Katie was one of those people you just feel privileged to know. While her death was a tremendous loss, her life was a HUGE inspiration.She had a way of giving her full attention to you, making you feel listened to, cared about and important, while also raising the bar and encouraging you to be even better. She prioritized her female friendships, always making time for parties, gatherings and social connections of any kind. She was full of vibrancy and joy and I’ve assigned her a permanent place on my committee of spirit guides. 

You can draw inspiration from others or your own past successes. Do you remember the feeling of falling in love? Amazing feeling. If you miss feeling that much excitement, exuberance and joy, study it, and see how you can bring that feeling back into your life today. When we’re falling in love, we obsess. We are “blinded” by love so we only notice the good stuff. We look over the rude comment he makes to the waiter, we don’t even notice the stinky socks on the floor. Our thoughts are all positive, all the time. We’ve told our brains where to look, so that’s what we focus on and it feels amazing. Love isn’t something that happens to us, it’s a state we create by focusing our minds in one, very positive direction.

Want to feel more loving? Notice the love that surrounds you every day. Obsess about it. Watch movies about it. Read romance novels. Watch people reunite with loved ones at the airport. Share your love with strangers and family members alike. Watch how it grows and expands.

Want more beauty in your life?  Pay attention to it. Take pictures of that flower growing through the crack in the sidewalk. Look into the mirror and appreciate something about your physical body. Go to a botanical garden, a museum or a beautifully designed building. Bring something of beauty into a corner of your home.

Get the picture? In what area of your life would you like to “turn up the volume”? More abundance is available to you any time just by looking around at the abundance of cars, people, clothing. You just need to decide what you want, then study success in your own life and in others.

Sometimes parenting is so overwhelming, it’s hard to KNOW what we want, because our families wants scream so loudly in our ear. If you struggle with this, sign up for the 14-day Supermom Challenge, and learn how to listen to YOU again.

4 things to say to your teens about dress code

Are you hearing about dress code violations at your kid’s school?

Dress code in schools is a hot topic! Use it as a teachable moment to have these 4 conversations with your teen. Click here to watch the video.

  1. Like it or not, how you look sends a message. Are you sending the message you want?

  2. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own mind. Are short skirts a distraction? Sure. So is rain. and farting. and improper grammar. It’s not your responsibility to help other’s focus their attention.

  3. Focusing on a person’s spirit is what’s important, not their appearance. We all have opinions, judgements and stereotypes. It’s our job to look past them and see the essence of a fellow human.

  4. If you experience injustice, help correct it! We need you to use your voice, raise the bar on adults and help us do better.

 

Boys need sex education talks with mom and dad

I have a problem.

Once again, I’ve got more girls with their moms signed up for my Time for The Talk class than I have boys.

I’m sure there are lots of reasons why, but I would love your ideas figuring out how to encourage more parents sign their 10-12 year old boys.

This class is so valuable, not just because boys have fun and love spending this time with their Mom, Dad, or Grandpa. It’s always telling when they say things like “Everyone in my class needs to hear this.” and “I’m so glad to know what everyone has been talking about”. 

These are 5 IMPORTANT reasons boys need Time for The Talk, or another parent/child sex education class, as much as girls do.

  1. Just like girls, boys deserve to know the truth about puberty and the changes their bodies will go through. When boys learn about the changes girls go through, it helps them be more compassionate and respectful of the opposite sex.

2. Boys can learn what sex is from a quick google search but they will only learn that sex is for pleasure. What they need to know is that sex is about intimacy, love, trust, and commitment as well as bringing new life into the world. This is immediately implied once parents enter the conversation.

3. Boys need to know what sexual harassment is, how to handle it, and that middle school is the number one time in a person’s life when they are likely to experience sexual harassment.

4. Boys need to understand that emotional intimacy is worth the risk. The number of teens who date has dropped dramatically and is being replaced with casual hook ups and online porn. Boys can have their sexual needs met by themselves with their cell phones. When parents talk  to kids about private subjects, get embarrassed, laugh, share facts and jokes together, kids are getting an experience of emotional intimacy. They see how much closer they feel to their parents and this openness feels good. Parents demonstrate the benefit of being emotionally vulnerable and the bond it creates.

5. Middle school boys are surrounded by sexual content through shared videos, texts, vines, snapchat, and degrading comments made about their peers. Boys need to know how to handle it in a “cool” way when they are put in positions where they feel uncomfortable.

Learn more about Time for The Talk

Trusting Your Teen

Trusting your teenager is one of the hardest things to do. We are surrounded by potentially hazardous situations that we feel we need to protect them from. Making the shift from “managing” your teen, to respecting and trusting your teen is SO difficult. It’s just so much easier to focus on what they aren’t doing and point it out to them. Luckily, our teens push back and resist our managing so much that it makes changing ourselves seem like the less painful alternative.

I spoke at Carondolet High School recently talking about how to create more balance in the lives of our stressed out teens. They are under a lot of pressure to do everything “right”. One Challenge Success survey showed the thing that stressed them out the most is disappointing their parents. When we remind them, “Clean your room, study for your test, don’t forget your jacket, stop spending so much time on your phone, etc.” We don’t even realize we are sending the message that they aren’t good enough as they are.

I wrote up a list of things to say or text to teens to show them more support and trust. My hope is to plant a seed in parents heads of what our words would sound like if we reinforced the behavior we wanted to see, instead of pointed out all the things we don’t like. I hope this list inspires you to come up with some of your own.

“Hey, just want to say thanks for cleaning up the entry way, I loved the way it felt to come into a clean entry way.”

“Guess what? You were right! I didn’t have to remind you about ____. I was wrong. Next time, feel free to remind me how responsible you are.”

“By the way, there is nothing you have to do today. The day is yours.”

“I’m so impressed with all you are doing. You are managing your busy calendar so well.”

“I’m pretty good at finding things to worry about but with you, I can’t. I just know that you will have a great future and you will handle it all beautifully.”

“I trust that you will figure things out.”

“I don’t know how you do it. I sat in a meeting for an hour and was so bored and restless. You impress me.”

“I never would have had the courage, at your age, to do what you did today.”

“How did I get so lucky to get such a great kid.”

“You are just amazing.” “Here’s $20. take the day off and just do nothing. You deserve a break.”

“You do a great job of putting up with me. Hang in there, I’m almost fully trained.”

“I love it when you stay true to your values, even if it means you argue with me.”

“Thank you so much for helping clean up after dinner. It meant the world to me.”

“I love it that whether your grades are good or bad, you know you can tell us the truth.”

Parents – Remember to focus and reinforce the behavior you’d like to see more of.