Friendship Really Is Magic
The notion that friendship is magic is sweet, but did you know that it’s also pretty accurate? Recent studies have shown that when your girl has a friend by her side:
- physical obstacles seem smaller and less daunting
- she’s motivate you to work harder and aim higher
- the transition to middle school goes a lot more smoothly
- her stress levels go down and her general health improves
- and physical or emotional pain feels a bit more manageable.
Kind of magical, right? There’s no doubt you’ve always wanted your daughter to have friends and fun in her life, but given the benefits of friendship, you might want to take more of a role in helping her foster the kind of healthy and meaningful relationships she’s naturally ready for. It’s only normal that as your girl gets a little older, starts school, and gains independence, friendships of proximity and convenience will give way to relationships based on common interests, values, and similarities in personality. Here are three super simple ways you can help her find those friends and nourish meaningful relationships:
1. Plan play dates
There’s no denying that it takes some work to reach out to other parents, schedule around after school activities, holidays, and other obligations, and then actually host a play date for your daughter and her friends, but it’s well worth it! Spending time with friends outside of the classroom can help your girl bond on a deeper level. And if you play an active part in the time, you can observe your daughter’s social skills so you get a sense for her strengths and the areas where she might have room to grow. And as your daughter gets older? Say yes to the team carpool or driving her to her friend’s house on the weekend, or suggest that she invite a few girlfriends for a slumber party here and there. All of this time is an investment in your girl’s happiness and overall wellbeing.
2. Teach her empathy
Making friends is only half the battle—to get the real benefits of friendship, your daughter will have to keep these new friends she’s making, too! Helping your daughter understand the concept of empathy and imagine herself into another girl’s shoes will go a long way in helping her be a friend to others. If you’re watching a show or movie, and a character has hurt feelings or is angry at another girl, take the opportunity to ask your girl why that character feels that way. Has anyone ever made her have similar feelings?
3. Show her what friendship looks like
Girls—especially little ones—take their social cues from their parents, so watching how you interact with your friends will shape how your daughter interacts with other kids. Naturally, no relationship is without its hiccups, but if you have a disagreement with a friend, think about how your daughter sees you handling that. Do you listen thoughtfully even when you disagree? If you hurt a friend’s feelings, or upset her in some other way, do you apologize? Do the people you consider friends treat you with respect and kindness? Are they trustworthy and supportive of your passions? Asking yourself these and other questions will not only ensure your daughter is learning about healthy friendships, but it will also help you to have a healthier and happier social life, too!