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Is your daughter – or someone she knows – struggling right now?
As a parent it can be hard to know when to step in and when to step back.
But, staying silent may send the wrong message.
So, what can you do when in those tricky moments when you’re just not sure?
Welcome back to the Cultivating Resilient Teens podcast where we’re going to share 4 Powerful Ways Your Teenage Daughter Can Help a Friend Who’s Struggling, because quite honestly, it’s not always easy or clear to know what to do or say.
Especially because we’re all still weary from doing our best to get through the pandemic, that, as “one 16-year-old said of the generation’s pivotal moment: “Making history is way overrated.”
According to a recent article in The New York Times, over five thousand young people wrote in to describe how the pandemic affected their lives and the collective sentiment was, well, consistent with what I saw in my private coaching practice.
The Times states, “Being a teenager in the U.S. during the pandemic was lonely, disorienting, depressing and suffocating.”
So, if your daughter or someone she knows is struggling, she’s not alone.
And, although we’re making progress, we’re not out of the woods just yet.
As we’ve talked about before, one of the beautiful qualities of teenage girls is, they are passionate about helping each other.
The hard part is, sometimes, healthy boundaries get blurred in the process.
When your daughter’s talking with a friend who’s struggling, she may:
- Feel like she needs to “fix” her friend’s tough situation
- Take on her friend’s stress because she believes that makes her a better friend
- Struggle with her own thoughts and emotions about what’s happening
- Indulge in or catastrophize the situation and create a mountain out of molehill
But, what’s most important for your daughter to understand is that healthy relationships are built on honesty, trust and being vulnerable together – NOT by taking on her friends’ problems OR feeling responsible for a solution.
Be on the Lookout
So, I want you to be on the lookout.
If you notice a significant change in your daughter’s mood or appearance after she interacts with a friend who’s having trouble, it’s okay to recognize her effort and express your concern for your daughter’s well-being.
You may say something like, “I admire your effort to be a good friend to Ella, though, I’m concerned about your well-being and how hard you may be taking this. Please let me know if YOU need someone to talk to.”
4 Powerful Ways to Help
And, then dive into the 4 powerful ways your daughter can help her friend by creating a healthy, supportive environment.
Let your friend know you’re truly listening by avoiding distractions and reflecting back what you hear.
You may want to say something like …
“I hear the pain / sadness / discord / frustration in your voice, and I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
Hold your hug for 20 seconds because research states that 20 seconds is the amount of time it takes for your body to release oxytocin – the feel good, bonding, loving hormone that elevate your mood and release tension.
You can gently and kindly ask one question, to reduce overwhelm and reinforce support.
“What can I do to help you right now?”
It’s okay to let your friend know that you’re not sure what to say because being honest is better than staying silent.
Offer up support that feels right for you by saying something like …
“I may not have the answer or solutions, though, I’m here for you.”
“I wish I could change this for you, though, I’ll listen and try to offer guidance.”
What to Avoid
Even though your daughter’s intentions are coming from a loving place, words matter, so it’s important to avoid saying things that negate her good intentions.
Try to avoid statements such as …
“Oh yeah, that happened to me too, but it was even worse.”
“That’s so dumb anyway, just get over it.”
“That BS is so not worth your time, just forget about it.”
Honor Me | Honor You
When life feels messy, it’s easy to blame someone or something and then compile a list of reasons to confirm your thinking.
If you’re not yet familiar with a concept called Confirmation Bias, it may be worth listening to last weeks
Ep – 24 How to Help Your Teenage Daughter Develop What Really Matters and reflecting on how your daughter’s biases may be playing a role in her life and relationships.
If you think about it this way, craving true connection and feeling good are really the end game, not necessarily always saying the “right” thing.
So, remind your daughter that she’s not alone in her friendship ups and downs, especially with all the covid complications.
Encourage her to make a pact with her buddies that they’ll listen, guide and support one another – not try to fix anything.
And, most importantly, agree that they’ll reach out to and adult, call 911 or use a helpline if they suspect imminent danger.
Thank you for spending your time listening, I look forward to connecting with you next week.
Remember, all the resources mentioned in today’s episode can be found in the Show Notes on my Website, cultivatingresilientteens.com
One Year in a Pandemic: Your Weekend Briefing | A special edition looking at a yar of living with disruption and pain | By Remy Tumin and Jeremiah M. Bogert, Jr. | March 14, 2021