Children of all different ages and at all different stages of their lives can experience challenges in their friendships. Very often these are caused by poor communication skills, however, this is not always the case. Friendship groups can take on many different dynamics, and sometimes the entry (or exit) of a person into a group can completely change the formation that the friendship group has. Although it’s a generalisation, more often than not this situation occurs with groups of girls. Girls tend to be far more reliant on the relationship aspect of their friendship groups, whereas with boys it is more likely that they are accepting of bigger group dynamics and participating in games and activities that require multiple people. This, however, is not the case on every occasion.
Every child can benefit from having that one special friend who they can really go to in times of need and to share stories and have fun with. When this changes and your child falls out of favour with either a best friend or a particular friendship group, it can leave them feeling very lonely and isolated. This too will have a knock-on effect on their confidence levels, their concentration skills, and maybe even the way in which they behave at home. For example, if you notice that your child has become withdrawn or subdued in some way, even perhaps more tearful after the school day has finished, it might have something to do with challenges they are experiencing in their friendship group. Sometimes the challenges can be resolved. If your child learns the skills to communicate well, to communicate from a place of respectful honesty, and they are willing to address the issues in order to reform the broken friendship then this can be possible. It’s possible too that they can develop the confidence that they need to be able to reach out to new people and make new friendship groups.
Sometimes the solution comes from teaching the young person in your life how to get by on their own for a while, because there may not be a reconciliation or a brand new friendship group for them to move in to. And so they might need to become comfortable with their own company. The benefit of doing so is that once they start to feel comfortable doing this, they will become more attractive to other young people, and this will cause them to start creating these new relationships without consciously even trying to do so.
Don’t underestimate the level of hurt that your child might be experiencing when a relationship falls to pieces. Most adults have had the experience of having their heartbroken at some point in time, and whilst your child maybe 5 years old, 15 years old (it really doesn’t matter), feeling as if you’ve been dropped by your friends creates the same sense of disappointment and grief as any other person might experience at the point of breaking up a romantic relationship. So it is important that your child feels properly supported as they go through this human experience. It does provide an opportunity for growth and development, and for them to perhaps become more self-reliant than they may have been as a result of being in that friendship group.
It also offers them the opportunity to evolve their character and to become somebody different when they do eventually forge new relationships going forward. For example, if your son or daughter was the quiet one amongst that group that they valued so dearly, later on in life when they make new relationships they can almost reinvent themselves and be somebody different. They can use this as an opportunity to become the confident one or the loud one because those new people will bring out different aspects of their personality, and a whole new dynamic begins to emerge.
To some extent solving this issue requires a great degree of patience because we can’t make other people like us, and we can’t make other people change their minds. Part of the process is accepting that it may take some time, but within that time they can begin to heal. If your child is experiencing difficulties in their friendships, they may benefit from a free consultation with me. This takes place at my therapy practice in Essex. I cover the surrounding towns and areas of Basildon, Billericay, Wickford, Southend on Sea, Chelmsford, Colchester, and Brentwood. If you would like to book this, then contact my assistant Olivia on 07958 203 274
By Gemma Bailey