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Maximize Your Daughter's Social Skills

Your daughter's school's climate and the availability of her teachers affect whether she builds strong social connections. If she is feeling disconnected, you may question whether she is in the right place (more on this in the next chapter). But her social skills count too. Developing strong bonds with teachers and classmates is a two way street. No matter where she goes to school, help her with the following:

Respect Authority Figures
When girls come to school with positive attitudes, their teachers find them enthusiastic learners, and their coaches see them as cooperative team players. Girls can disagree with their teachers and administrators, but they have to do so in ways that convey respect and therefore preserve these relationships. Teens who feel undervalued sometimes show up with chips on their shoulders that evoke the very responses from teachers that they fear most. Those who are distracted by chronic family discord often act out their anger and resentment on other adults.

Does your daughter view her teachers as valuable resources or as potential oppressors? Is she predisposed to listen to adults and do what they ask? Can she respond to constructive criticism without feeling personally attacked?

If your daughter is unaware that her attitude is disrespectful, dismissive, or off-putting, she needs corrective feedback. Don't be afraid to share your insights along with what her teachers observe. Try "I heard something that might be helpful to you." Then repeat the comments succinctly, without editorializing or passing judgment. Even if your daughter denies what you say or your input seems to fall on deaf ears, she is hearing it.

Ask Appropriately for Help
The most resilient girls know how to reach out to adults who take an interest in them and encourage their talents. Socially skilled girls are better able to elicit support and cooperation from others. They know whether teachers prefer to be e-mailed or consulted after school. Whether they want to improve their next biology lab or review the steps in a geometry proof, they ask in ways that ensure they get that help. And they keep asking questions until they get answers.

Can your daughter ask for what she needs? Does she behave in ways that make people feel good about helping her? If your daughter is too shy, self-conscious, or anxious to approach adults, she is not alone. Many teen girls need practical strategies. What should she say? What shouldn't she say? Try role-playing to make her more comfortable. Also, share pertinent stories from your own life that illustrate how you prevailed when it was difficult for you to ask for help.

More on: Teen Stress

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From Stressed-Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure by Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here.


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