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Navigating the Friendship Seas

By | March 18, 2015

Kelly Fisher, School Counsellor

Kelly Fisher, School Counsellor

Two of the biggest worries girls bring to me are to do with their peer relationships, specifically making new friends and troubles within or between friendships.

During adolescence, friendships are incredibly important. Friends offer fun, support and companionship. As adolescence progresses, a girls’ commitment to her friends can often seem stronger than her connection with family members. This is all part of the process of transitioning from a child to an adult, and gaining more and more independence from the family they are growing up in.

However, while some girls will navigate the friendship seas with grace and ease most of the time, others will come across more stormy conditions or will feel they have been set adrift in a foreign territory they are ill-equipped to deal with. The following are some tips for making friends that you might like to share with your daughter if she is struggling with this at present.

  • Be friendly and talk to lots of other students. This sounds straightforward enough, but particularly if your daughter is new to Woodford, it can take quite a bit of confidence to start a conversation with another student you don’t know, at a new school, where almost everything around her is different. The odds are stacked in her favour if she does this, as the more students she talks to, the more likely your daughter is to find someone she enjoys being with.
  • Show interest in other students. For some of us asking questions and showing an interest in others is not particularly natural! But the more genuine interest you give to others, the more they will give to you. How about setting a goal with your daughter where she aims to speak to five different students during the next school day, starting a conversation and finding out something new about each one?
  • Give empathy. Showing care and concern for others is a very attractive quality in a friend.
  • Be yourself. The aim is to connect with potential friends who have things in common with you.
  • Work at being social if this does not come easy to you. This includes spending time with new friends, saying ‘yes’ to invitations, arranging get-togethers yourself, and working at your social life!
  • A word about good friends who are at a different school this year… maintain your friendship by connecting outside of school, but be aware that these friendships may change to look a little different as time moves on. Ensure you don’t hold back from making friends at Woodford as these girls will most likely be the ones around you when you want to celebrate a success or need help to face a challenge.

When the seas of friendship become stormy as happens when friends fall out or there is conflict, remind your daughter about G.I.R.L. We teach this acronym for problem-solving friendship worries in the junior boarding houses.

Gather your choices (list all the ways you might respond to what’s happened)
I choose (pick one of these choices from above)
Reasons are (justify your choice, thinking of all your reasons for choosing this one)
List the outcomes (think ahead – what might happen if you make this choice?)