Have you gone to the mall lately?
It didn’t take long before I was reminded of the power of the teenage tribe.
The importance was on full display as the teenage girls moved through the store, practically sewn-together-at-the-hip.
As you’re probably noticing about now, your daughter is ready to spread her beautiful, independent wings and establish a “tribe” outside the family.
While she’s engaging in the tribe building process, she’ll likely prioritize time with her friends and take a copious number of selfies.
Because, quite honestly, every teenage girl has an inherent desire to fit in and feel accepted by her peers.
So, don’t be surprised when you see her working hard to build a solid platform and relying on her friends for advice, entertainment and support.
Ideally, your daughter’s tribe will:
- share common interests, values and goals
- embrace each other’s uniqueness
- and encourage individual greatness
But what if she doesn’t find a tribe that honors and appreciates her value?
She may begin to feel invisible.
And that’s a cause for concern.
So, I’d like to invite you to take a look at the 3 Signs Your Daughter Hasn’t Found Her “Just Right” Tribe:
Isolation – spending increased amounts of time alone.
She’s spending profuse amounts of time scrolling through posts and pictures from her social media “friends.”
And you’re noticing that her media is compromising her self-image, especially if she doesn’t get the number of likes or feedback she was hoping for.
Attention Seeking – going overboard to get attention.
You may hear her harshly criticizing peers for their clothing, hair or friend choices.
If your daughter is struggling with her sense of self, she may try to control the people and things around her.
Although teens try to “control” people and things in different ways, harsh judgement of self and others tends to push people away, rather than create connection.
Compromised Values – ignoring her needs and values.
Ignoring her needs and compromising her values may be the most obvious shift because your daughter may do things that she believes will earn acceptance from her peers.
You may notice her grades slipping, her clothing choices change, or her attitude change towards activities she used to enjoy.
Although it’s normal for teens to try different personas, overlooking her needs and values will likely leave your daughter feeling confused and exhausted.
If “connection is the most important predictor of happiness that we have in a hundred or so years of research,” as reported by Author and Researcher, Dr. Christine Carter, let’s identify what you can do to support your daughter and help her build the tribe she craves.
First, Validate that She is Enough
First and foremost, remind your daughter that she is worthy of love and respect, and deserves to be happy.
So, reinforce her worthiness even if she believes she’s said the “wrong” thing, doesn’t make the volleyball team or receives a poor test score.
Remember that personal time can help her recharge, but too much time alone can be a sign that your daughter needs some support.
Second, Let Self-Awareness be your Golden Ticket
If your daughter hasn’t found her just right tribe yet, that’s okay.
Use this time as an opportunity to learn what an ideal friend looks and feels like, by exploring:
- what does a good friend say when you’re having a tough day?
- what are some fun things you enjoy doing with your friends?
Establishing clear and healthy personal boundaries will create the connections your daughter craves.
And she’ll be less likely to turn to social media for support when she’s having a meltdown – an action she’ll regret.
Lastly, Listen to your Parental Instincts
If you get the feeling that your daughter’s personal boundaries are being compromised in order for her to “fit in” you’ll want to address your concern.
All teens take a slightly different approach to tribe building, and now is an ideal time to talk about what’s best for your daughter.
As your parental role moves from “manager” to “guide,” remember that your unconditional love is needed, maybe now, more than ever.
There are several rites of passage that your daughter will go through and learning how to build a happy, supportive tribe outside the family is an important one.
Although there will be natural ups and downs, try to keep in mind that every life lesson will help strengthen your daughter’s resiliency muscle.
The NEW Adolescence, Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction | Christine Carter, PhD.
5 Simple Questions That Will Set Your Teenager Up for Success