Girl Drama! (and not the “good kind”)

love-300x225By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This Wednesday we hosted a presentation on the important topic of “Girls’ Friendships & Drama: How to Support Your Daughter.” The presentation was given by Dr. Tim Jordan, an expert in this area, and was aimed at parents who have girls in grades 3rd – 8th (and beyond!). As one of the “beyond” parents and someone who deals with discipline and counseling, I’m all too aware of the pitfalls and emotions that households can find themselves engulfed in regarding this topic. The webinar was very informative, and I thought I’d share some of the more useful “nuggets” he talked about for those of you who couldn’t attend. At the end of the article is a link to explore more information.

  • “Girls often hold onto their feelings longer than boys and when in conflict, bring up things from the past that still weigh on their minds.” So in counseling them, it is good to try and get them to focus on the here and now, and who their “adversary” is as a person now, rather than two years ago.
  • “It is perfectly OK to persuade girls to try and make new friends.” A strategy Dr. Jordan suggested is having your daughter make a list of the qualities she desires in a friend (honest, non-judgmental, avoids drama, etc.) and then think of who in her class possesses them. An interesting corollary to that is to see how her current friends match up with that list too!
  • “Girls often desire to be popular or leaders in their class. They need to learn there are other types of leaders beyond the most athletic, or popular, or Student Council officer, etc.” Dr. Jordan suggests letting your daughter know that girls who don’t care what other people think of them often become a different type of leader. Qualities such as not engaging in the daily drama, or trying to include everyone instead of dividing them, are noticed and appreciated by others and create leadership in their own right.

In terms of parenting skills, he suggests several tactics:

  • Simply be a good listener and mirror back to your child what you hear them saying rather than trying to solve the problem for her. After restating what you hear, ask “And what are you going to do about that?”
  • Avoid getting emotionally sucked into their issues. To quote Dr. Jordan, “Don’t drown in your daughter’s social pool” (one of my favorite quotes of the day)! He noted that when your daughter complains about a certain friend/enemy, parents often begin to harbor ill will towards the same child, while at school they very likely may have “made up” and are now friends! Resist getting caught up in their drama, but work to help them sort through it in a positive way.
  • Tell stories from your past so your daughter will see she’s not the first to go through certain scenarios (“You’d never understand Mom, you’ve never gone through anything like this!”) Give her examples of how you solved difficult situations and role-play conversations with her that she may need to have at school to help her prepare.
  • And finally, find out and take advantage of anything your child’s school does to help out in the area of social/emotional learning. And I’m happy to say we certainly DO provide support in these critical areas and are always willing to partner with you in navigating these murky, turbulent waters.

I think you can see there was a lot of great information disseminated at this webinar! Special thanks to Jen Griffith for arranging it and Julie Marks for leading a post-presentation discussion afterwards. Jen also has some additional handouts available, and if you’d like to learn more about Dr. Tim Jordan, check out his website and podcasts at Drtimjordan.com.

Happy parenting! (And let’s save the drama for the stage where it belongs!)