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When friendships cause pain

4 August
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Friendships are really important for kids, but they can also be a source of dismay.

They can cause as much unhappiness as happiness.

Kids can be purposefully mean to each other. They can also be thoughtlessly mean as well.

As a parent it helps if your kids, who maybe experiencing friendship pain, to work out the difference between the two.

Girls seem to experience more friendship pain than boys. It seems that early to mid adolescent years are the worst.

Teen girls can become very hierarchical when they get together. The leaders who are often bright, attractive and charismatic  can be mightily influential on the behaviour of the peer group. They often set the moral code for the group. Break it and you’re out.

Sometimes kids will behave in anti-social ways (be mean to other kids) because that is what the dominant group wants. Social exclusion is just about the worst thing that can happen to a girl or boy. In fact, Professor Harlene Harban from University of Otago in New Zealand recently found that social exclusion is the worst thing that can happen to kids. Many will do anything to prevent ostracism.

As kids get older they do develop the skills to recognise and keep away from dominant and difficult groups.  Maturity gives them the ability to are assess what’s happening in groups..

You can help girls by revealing the pull of the group, and help them to connect with friends outside the dominant or cool groups.

Talk to kids about setting their own moral compasses, and why its important to stick to their own moral code. But this does take some courage and maturity.....and at least one other friend to connect with.

Teaching them how to negotiate friendships is an ongoing, yet important life skill.
  • bullying
  • exlusion
  • friendships
  • loneliness
  • ostracism
  • peers
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