What Do I Do When My Daughter Comes Home From School Upset?
If there’s one question we get asked more than any other, it’s this: what do I do when my daughter is upset about a conflict with a friend or teammate?
As parents, we’re wired to protect our kids, so our first (understandable) instinct is to throw ourselves into solving the problem for her. Maybe we dish out advice, offer to call the other parent, or email the school. But it’s also our job as parents to teach our children how to manage their social challenges. To do that, we’ve got to give them a combination of skills — the know-how — and confidence — the belief that I can do it if I try.
In other words, our job is to cultivate resilience in our girls: the ability to handle stress and adversity in productive ways. Over the last twenty years, research has found that children and adolescents are struggling with resilience (particularly those in the middle class), leading to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
When we try to solve our girls’ problems for them, we send the message that they can’t resolve conflicts on their own. We also tend to make the situation worse. In this video, we share alternatives to getting involved as a first step. By delaying your intervention, and allowing your daughter to wrestle with her options, you have the opportunity to help her:
- Recognize that all relationships involve some hurt, disappointment, and setbacks, giving her a more realistic set of expectations and healthier definition of friendship.
- Consider multiple strategies to respond, allowing her to flex her problem-solving muscles.
- Reflect on her feelings before acting, developing her emotional intelligence. Many Girls Leadership families keep the How Do You Feel / Como Te Sientes poster around to help during just these kind of tough days.
- Validate her feelings by affirming them with her, increasing her confidence to act.
This video introduces a way to approach social challenges with your daughter that you can use in almost any difficult situation. We urge you to use these tactics again and again; over time, with practice, your daughter will eventually begin having the conversation “with herself.” In other words, she’ll begin to use these strategies on her own.
If you are worried about your child’s safety, or are concerned she is being bullied, immediate intervention is always the best course of action.
Asking What She Wants to Do Builds Resilience: Wondering what to do after your daughter starts brainstorming some brilliant or terrible solutions to her challenge? Sign up for our newsletter to receive new, upcoming videos on how to role play at home.
Think About It: How do you tend to respond when your daughter is upset about something that happened with a peer? In what way does that response cultivate or pose a challenge to her resilience? When you were a child, what kind of help did your parents or guardians offer you? Has that influenced the way you react to your daughter?
Talk About It: Use these questions to start a conversation with girls about how you respond to her social challenges.
- When you have a problem with a friend, what is one thing you wish adults like me would do more of?
- What do you wish we did less of?
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg’s “7 C’s” of Resilience for parents