It takes a lot of compassion and empathy to be a parent, especially when it comes to helping our children cope with the social challenges of growing up. As adults we all know that friendships change in many different ways. Often relationships can become stronger while others may dissolve altogether. Children are just learning this lesson, and we can’t protect them from the pain of inevitable change. What we can do, however, is help them process and cope with the change. By asking thoughtful questions from your heart about what your child is thinking, feeling and deciding about a particular situation they can come up with some of their own ideas about how to best deal with the situation.
Validate and empathize the feelings of your child, or help them give language to their feelings. As a society we are not comfortable talking about negative feelings, but I encourage you to do just that. Help your child build an emotional language so that they can express themselves in productive ways. Giving your child a journal to write about their experiences, and honoring their privacy with this journal will also promote healthy social and emotional limits for your child or teen.
I also find that sharing personal stories about our own experiences can be beneficial in helping a child process their experience, and lets them know we have all been there. Lecturing or getting on a soapbox about what your child should do, or judging how they are behaving is not healthy, nor is going to help.
Most important is to continue to honor, respect and love your child as they continue to experience the unconditional relationship that exists between the two of you, and model healthy relationships in your own life.
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