Girl bullying takes a toll on the entire family, and it can be difficult to know how best to help your daughter through these painful years. Here are 6 tips to facilitate open communication:
Do ask her what she needs from you
• Navigating what to say when you first pick her up from school each day can be tricky; immediately asking how things went can feel like you’re wallowing, but not mentioning it may make it seem like you forgot or don’t care. It doesn’t have to be such a mystery though! Encourage open communication where she has control in how you can best support her. Allow her to be the guide each day in assessing what she needs.
Don’t question what she says is happening
• It can be hard to believe some of the stories she brings home to you, but questioning them – no matter how well intended – can come across as not trusting her. In a time where she feels isolated and is questioning everything herself, the last thing she needs is to feel that her home base doubts her too.
Do let her be weak and vulnerable
• Watching your daughter come home sobbing day in and day out is equally devastating and painful from the parent’s perspective. But never doubt this as a lack of strength. It takes courage and emotional stamina to survive the hours at school and weekend plans with friends – her home needs to be a sanctuary where she is allowed to break down without judgment. Strength can develop over time, whether you’re physically witnessing or not.
Don’t tell her to make new friends
• If it were that easy, it would be done already. It seems a simple solution, but in reality is a near impossible feat in her eyes. And there is likely already a voice in her head screaming the exact same thing, but a more overpowering one convincing her she’s incapable of doing so.
Do encourage her to find an outlet, even if it’s not you
• The most important thing is that she knows you’re there to comfort her and listen – if and when she wants that. Whether she’s ready to divulge what she’s experiencing to you or not, empower her to express it some other way: journaling, through art, music, or sports, or even to a therapist. Forcing her to open up to you may deter her from releasing her emotions at all; in the meantime, it’s crucial she not bottle it all up. She’ll turn to you when she’s ready.
Don’t make this the centerpiece of your family
• This is a significant part of her life (and yours), but make sure she knows it’s not the only part of her life that matters. Continue cultivating ways for your family to converse and share quality time outside of this subject matter. It’s important she walk away understanding that her value extends beyond her friendships, and that the family unit can still thrive without letting this overshadow every conversation.