Is it normal for preteens to have rocky relationships with friends?

Q: My daughter has rocky relationships with her friends -- one day they're fighting or crying, and the next day everything is fine. Is this normal behavior for preteens?

A: Unfortunately for many an exasperated parent, lots of drama is very typical of early adolescents, particularly girls, as they learn to master the skills of friendship and socializing. Most of these situations come and go quickly and the tears and hysteria usually look like a much bigger deal than they actually are. Just remember that you can't choose your daughter's friends, and trying to select new ones for her is not a good idea.

But that's not to say your hands are tied, either. The best strategy in this situation is to keep the lines of communication open between you and your daughter -- try to eat dinner as a family and do things that she enjoys together on weekends. If she opens up about a fight she had with a friend, offer some suggestions on how to manage the situation, but follow your daughter's lead. If she says she can handle it, let her work it out on her own and don't push your own agenda. Believe it or not, there are lessons to be learned from managing social conflicts without your stepping in to put out every fire. Of course if someone is getting emotionally or physically hurt or bullied, then you should absolutely step in and discuss your daughter's clique with her teachers or school counselor.

Copyright 2009

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