Friendship Information taken and modified from WebMD Friends play an enormous part in a child's development, much more so than we possibly realize. It's probably the highest correlation to our kids' happiness and mental health and it's going to help them in every arena of their life. Think about it -- not just now, but with their employer, their colleagues, their adult friends, their spouse and their own children. That's why we have to prioritize it more. The first step [to helping your child create strong friendships] is to watch your child closely without his/her knowing you're watching. Watch them when they are interacting with other children. See if there's any little red flag. Is there anything they are doing that may be stopping them from making good friends or being a good friend? Such as being bossy, overly sensitive, argumentative, teasing or overly shy? Target one skill at a time. Typical Girl Conflict of Relational Aggression? Information taken and modified from teachersandfamilies.com Acts of relational aggression are common among girls in American schools, which can start as early as elementary school. These acts can include rumor spreading, secret-divulging, alliance-building, backstabbing, ignoring, excluding from social groups and activities, verbally insulting, and using hostile body language (i.e., eye-rolling and smirking). Other behaviors include making fun of someone's clothes or appearance and bumping into someone on purpose. How Can Parents Help? Information taken and modified from teachersandfamilies.com Encourage friendships and social groups. Encourage your children to form and maintain friendships based on mutual interests rather than social status. Work with your schools and communities to ensure a wide range of group activities for children at all ages, and particularly programs that appeal to middle school–age girls. Clubs for children interested in learning a foreign language, babysitters' support groups, chess clubs, walking or running groups, environmental interest groups, and dance clubs in which students learn the latest dances are just a few possibilities. Young girls in particular need to understand that the definition of a friend is someone who is positive and supportive. They may even need to be cautioned explicitly to “choose friends who are nice to you rather than mean to you.” Although this is obvious to most adults, young girls who are caught up in a cycle of wanting to be popular may lose sight of such common sense ideas. Researchers have found that girls who focus on academic achievement, athletics, or other extracurricular activities may be more resistant to relational aggression because their self-esteem is not limited to worries about social standing. Parent support. Parents should also talk about bullying even before it happens. Ask your daughters if they see girls being mean to each other in school and what behaviors they have observed. Ask if they think that teachers are aware of these behaviors. Be supportive and let girls know that they can always come to you with any problems. Brainstorm together about what can be done in various real and potential situations. If your daughter is willing to let you intervene, talk to other parents, teachers, or counselors about the problems occurring.