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Maximize Your Daughter's Social Skills

Resolve Conflicts Effectively
Addressing issues skillfully--clearly, tactfully, and directly--socially skilled girls are often able to avoid many of the misunderstandings that plague less communicative teens. If your daughter is able to express her feelings appropriately--including negative emotions such as disappointment, anger, and frustration--she is two steps ahead of the game. The ability to avert social crises also protects her from the emotional upheavals that typically accompany them. With fewer distractions and less drain on their mental energy, as described in Chapter 6, girls who are secure in their relationships are better able to focus on and invest in whatever they are doing.

Of course, no relationship--either with peers or adults--is free from conflict. When clashes do occur, the more adeptly your daughter can address and resolve them, the better she can keep her relationships on an even keel. What can you do to help? Perhaps when she was younger you called her friend's mother and tried to work things out. Now that she is a teenager, however, that level of involvement is inappropriate--unless she is involved in bullying or harassment, in which case you will report this to the authorities at her school.

What you can do is listen attentively. Recap her viewpoint and clarify her feelings. If your teen wishes, help her brainstorm solutions. But think twice before offering unsolicited advice. Also, be cautious about pointing out how her friends are probably feeling, because she might interpret that as evidence of your taking their sides. When you encourage your daughter to take age-appropriate responsibility for working out the snags in her friendships, you are conveying your faith in her social skills.

Repeated conflicts with her teachers will eventually erode her alliances with them. Take the position that blaming teachers won't help. Instead, encourage her to work things out. Let her use you as a sounding board for thinking up possible solutions. Perhaps if she changes her approach in some way, her teacher will too.

If not, suggest that she try to resolve the situation directly. Following the correct chain of command, suggest that she first schedule a meeting with her teacher. You can offer to be present. Girls take pride in approaching their teachers and resolving issues; they also know they earn adults' respect when they are proactive. But if that doesn't help, a visit with her guidance counselor or adviser is probably in order. As a parent, it may relieve you to know firsthand that there are other support networks at school available to your daughter; this situation and its solution are not all on your shoulders.

Beyond getting through the school year more happily and successfully, girls who are able to develop and maintain strong connections learn lessons far more valuable than good grades. At some point, your daughter will have to get along with people she finds difficult, whether they are professors, bosses, roommates, or coworkers. Strong social skills will enable her to minimize unpleasantness, work out differences, combat stress, and benefit from relationships that are empowering.

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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