At this stage of the school year, it is common for girls to be experiencing challenges in their friendships as these begin to shift or dynamics are impacted by weariness. Having friends is an important part of school life, but every friendship will experience seasons of conflict or misunderstanding. When girls experience challenges in their friendships, it can be distressing and tricky to navigate as girls are still learning the skills they need to respond to one another well.
Here are a few key pieces of advice and strategies that the pastoral team at Meriden regularly remind girls of as they respond to different scenarios that emerge in their friendship circles:
Friendship involves compromise: We regularly remind the girls that friendship involves compromise, not demanding your own rights to choose the topics of conversation and social activities but rather being able to compromise on what you want in order to care for your friends.
Give it time: Often, when conflict emerges, there is an innate human tendency to catastrophise about the issue. We encourage the girls to not view the issue as permanent and try to acknowledge that everyone has bad days. Sometimes not responding immediately or not contacting your friend throughout the evening on social media and allowing time for the situation to settle helps conflict to dissolve.
Look for solutions, not just problems: Rather than just focusing on what has gone wrong, we encourage the girls to think about how they can seek reconciliation in the friendship. Even if they are not the ones who “started it” we try to get the girls to reflect on how they can take steps to open up a conversation where people can honestly express how they are feeling and find a way forward.
Don’t have a fixed mindset about your “group”: At Meriden, we often encourage the girls to have open circles so that girls can join groups at any time, move groups if dynamics change or their interests change, and welcome new students to the school. At times, girls can feel trapped in a group, particularly if they have been friends for a long time. We regularly remind girls that friendships change through the seasons.
Friends should build you up, not tear you down: Ultimately, we encourage the girls to make friends with those who encourage them. We regularly remind them not to say things to others (either face-to-face or online) that they would not want to be said to themselves.
If your daughter is facing challenges in her friendships, please allow her the space to talk about it with you and listen. If the problem does not settle or you would like some advice on how to help your daughter navigate these challenges, please do not hesitate to get in touch with her Year Coordinator.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13