Children seem to grow up so fast these days that the conflicts, drama and mean girl issues so typical of middle and high school are seen as early as in first or second grade. Little girls seem to go from best friends to worst enemies in the blink of an eye. Taunting might begin in the playground and exclusion can be seen in the early elementary years, when little girls decide who they want a play date with or who to invite to their birthday parties.
When I was much younger, I lived though this in the fifth grade while I lived in Chile. My best friend at the moment decided it was way cooler to tease me, lock me in classrooms during recess and embarrass me to provide entertainment for the entire class. It was so painful to have your supposed friends turn their backs on you for no apparent reason that I still remember how much I cried and suffered. Yes, even after thirty years have passed.
As a mother, I wish there was something I could do to prevent this from happening to my own daughter. However, as I tell both of my children quite often, you cannot control others. You cannot control what they say or do to you. All you can do is control how you react and what you make with the lemons that life sometimes hands you. In my own case, I can try to make my kids as strong as they can be, but in the end, they are on their own, fighting their own battles and learning lessons every single day of their lives.
Some lessons hurt more than others and it has been extremely difficult for me to see my own daughter experience the trials and tribulations of fickle friendships at 7 and 8 years old.
Even if your child hasn’t suffered teasing at school, we need to teach our kids it is not OK to belittle others and that if they see somebody being teased maliciously or being bullied, that they cannot simply stand by. We need to watch our own behavior and lead by example, since actions speak louder than words.
I am also s teaching my daughter lessons about what real friendship is all about. Because even if there are mean people, there are so many wonderful friends you can meet. It’s up to you to discover them.
Friends are important and can bring so much joy into your life. However, not all friendships are created equal. Click through to see the 10 friendship tips I am sharing with my own daughter.
1. Friends can pull you up or bring you down.
Not all friends are created equal. Some friendships are toxic and might not bring out the best in you. Know when to walk away and realize that sometimes it’s time to move on. A great friend will raise you up.
2. Friends accept their imperfections.
Trying to be perfect not only can be exhausting, but it can also prevent you from having an honest friendship. True friends show their true colors to each other and the most beautiful thing is that they love each other despite their imperfections. You don’t have to like your friend’s defects, but you learn to accept them as part of who she is.
3. Friendship is not about competition.
Yes, some people are more competitive than others, but you cannot base a friendship on constant competition and trying to outdo each other. Sometimes you’ll be the cheerleader and your friend will be the star of the game, while other times she will be your loudest supporter. Be generous and learn to work with each other’s strong points. A true friend will be clapping while the other enjoys the limelight, instead of turning green with envy.
4. Cherish real friends.
Even the most beautiful things in life can wither away if you don’t know how to take care of them. Friendship is no exception. Make sure to tell your friend what she means to you, but most importantly, show her how important she is.
5. Friends are allowed to make mistakes.
Friends are human beings, and as such, they can (and almost certainly will) make mistakes. Sometimes they can give us bad advice, or even be judgmental, but what’s really important is for them to be able to recognize their mistakes and say they’re sorry. This is important because you’re human, too, and chances are one day you’ll be the one apologizing.
6. Real friendship is based on who you really are.
With tweens and teens, you sometimes see girls who are desperately trying to be somebody else or pretending to like something to fit in and seem “appealing” to the girls they want to befriend. But a solid relationship only emerges when you allow your friends to see the “real” you.
7. True friends stand up for each other.
Your real friends will never feel it is okay for others to speak badly about you behind your back. They will either leave the conversation or say something to stop vicious words. Backstabbing is never a sign of friendship.
8. A real friend tells you the truth.
Real friends keep you grounded and will tell you the truth, even if you feel like you’re not ready for it. A great friend is one that loves you so much that she will prefer to hurt your feelings a bit rather than see you make a huge mistake.
9. Friendship is not about looks or the “coolness” factor.
When you’re young, it’s easy to get influenced by what everybody else likes or does. Be smart and look beyond what others dictate. Dare to do what you think is best for you. Open the doors to discover unexpected friends, because they might be your BFF’s in the future.
10. True friends stick with you through thick and thin.
True friendship survives both the good and the ugly times, when you are happy and when you feel you can’t even get out of your house. The more you live through, the stronger your bond is.
And remember: It’s OK to evolve and grow apart. People do change and some friendships simply do not survive. But those friends that stand by you as time goes by, become a part of your life, make it better and give you a gift that is truly priceless.