This is one of the most common reasons children come to coaching:-
- They don’t have enough friends
- They don’t make friends easily
- They are shy in social situations and avoid them
- They don’t have enough of the right type of friends
- They are bullied by so called friends
- They give in to peer pressure and struggle to say no
- They won’t do anything without their friends
- They are in a friend triangle (three is not the magic number)
Friendships are so important throughout our lives. We cherish our friendships and the importance of being around like minded people who share our values and we treat them as we wish to be treated.
Can your child spot a good friend?
Children with low emotional literacy and low self esteem struggle with friendships. Certain parenting styles also render children helpless in situations where they are required to stand up for themselves.
In my Smiley Toolkit I’ve lots of practical tips for dealing with tricky friends, but what is more important is to strengthen your child’s emotional resilience (their bounce-back-ability) so they don’t take life personally.
Imagine the freedom in knowing that other people’s opinions don’t define you and that you deserve to be treated with kindness…and at such a young age too.
Confidence helps find strong + healthy friendships
Some children are drawn to bullies or stronger personalities like a moth to a flame. Their tolerance for mistreatment is high and they are unable to stand up for themselves. They become soft targets for bullies who are emotional vampires and feed off the powerful feelings of having control over another. The analogy I use for children when coaching is that inside of you, in your heart and tummy shines a pink light. It is because you are full of love. Bullies are not. They are empty and want to steal your pink light. You mustn’t let them have it. You must stand up and be strong.
At The Energy Pod (the class on Negativity which you can get a replay of here) we’ve been learning to protect our pink light and ourselves. We became strong and powerful like Super Heroes. We would not fall prey to a meanie. We were better than that and after all, we knew that they were just miserable inside and didn’t like themselves very much.
Words are only 7% of your communication
We also did role plays and learnt the importance of body language. How we stand, our facial expressions, our tone of voice. I’ve recently noticed how I have a tendency to give myself away with my facial expressions. I then started to observe my body language in other situations:-
- In the new gym class, I stood at the back as my posture apologised on my behalf for being there
- The grimacing facial expressions when I was talking about something good that I had done
- The smile that didn’t quite reach the eyes when I wasn’t being authentic or honest
- The uncomfortable no when I didn’t want to do something which was easier hiding behind email or text
- The tension in my shoulders and clenched jaw when I’m frustrated or angry
Do you know if your body language gives you away? Even if you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve like me, your body language creates an energy that other people can pick up on?
How to help your child with friendships
Here are 10 top tips to help you and your child with their friendship hiccups:-
- Reinforce and live the values that are important to your family – honesty, loyalty, kindness, sharing or whatever they may be. Have them written somewhere at the heart of your home where everybody can see them and remember them.
- If there are films or TV programmes that demonstrate lessons to be learnt around friendship, use those as conversation starters to take the heat out of a real situation that may be troubling your child. I’m discovering that a big reason children don’t want to share with their parents is because they don’t want to let them down. It’s also easier for them to talk about tricky situations if they are referring to themselves as the third person.
- Don’t dictate who your child can and can’t spend time with. Controlling our children is a parenting myth anyway. You want your child to be motivated from within to take action and speak up, not be obedient and blindly follow your instructions. We have to feel our way to what is right or wrong for us.
- Encourage your child to be their true selves and not People Pleasers. Watch yourself, are you one?
- Help your child to learn to say the word no and to be on the receiving end of it (rejection is not about them, it’s about the other person). 95% of the time other people’s behaviour is not about you. It’s about them and their stuff.
- Take my Happiness Test and find out your family’s emotional literacy score. It will highlight where you can work together as a family. We do this at The Energy Pod every week and it’s great fun.
- Lead by example: mention how you dealt with something friendship related in a positive way and ask them for their opinion.
- Talk about when you were at school and how it was for you making friends. Share your experiences and the things you learnt.
- Encourage your child to handle their friendship dramas (unless they are being badly bullied) for themselves. You’re not going to be able to pop up from behind a bush in the playground and defend them every day. Even though you want to protect them, you are not doing them any favours by stepping in and rescuing them.
- Teach your child that people come and go from our lives and we meet people for a reason. This is actually one of my Smiley Thought Cards – these are a fun and light-hearted way to spark off those all important conversations with your child.
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
― Elbert Hubbard