Guiding My Daughter Through Peer Conflict

For most of us, when we hear our daughter is upset following conflict with a friend, our instinct is often to jump to attention and go into “fix it” mode, calling the other child’s parent, or calling the Dean and asking for an intervention. 

There are three big problems with “fix it” mode:

  1. If you jump in to “fix it”, you send the message to your daughter that you do not believe she is capable of navigating the conflict herself. In the long term, this can be detrimental to self-worth and self-efficacy. Our teen learns: “I need someone else to solve things for me. I am not capable of solving things myself”. 
  2. You deprive your daughter of a vital learning opportunity. Adolescence sets us up with skills for how to deal with the real-world as adults. How to navigate social problems is a key skill that must be learnt from experience as a teen. 
  3. Most the time, there is little you can do to truly resolve the conflict. Peer conflict is natural, normal and actually a very important part of adolescence.

Our job as parents is to be a supportive, empathic sounding board and to empower her by demonstrating that we have confidence and trust in her ability to resolve conflict. 

Further resources on guiding teens through teen conflict is available below, but in short, most agree that the key is active listening and validation. Resist the “fix it” urge. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to your daughter that you can hold her big feelings. If you freak out or go into a frenzy trying to fix things, she’s unlikely to tell you things in future. Thank her for sharing her story with you and validate her feelings, i.e., “It makes total sense that you would feel upset that Sophie said that.” 

Once she has got her big feelings out and has calmed, then you could ask her what she thinks some options might be moving forward. You can ask her if she would like you to do anything to help out. 

Lead by example in your own friendships. 

Remind her of the GIVE and DEERS skills she’s learnt at Santa..

Sometimes, adult intervention in social conflict is warranted. If you feel your teen is being harassed or bullied such that her schoolwork, or physical or mental health are impacted, speak with your Dean. 

Some fantastic further reading on helping guide your daughter through peer conflict are listed below. 

Linda Stade also offers free activities on friendship you can work through with your daughter. Click here. 

Tips for identifying bullying and discussing it with your teen are here

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