My 8 year old and friendships

My daughter is 8 and has become a bit of a “follower” with her friends. I also see it happening with her cousins when we hang out with family. She seems to have a hard time taking the lead or sticking up for herself - does anyone else have experience with this that they’d be willing to share please! Am at a bit of a loss…

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Ooooh this is a tough one. I don’t have any concrete advice as I’ve not experienced this yet but just wanted to send you a big hug :hugs:

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This is a tough one @TiredMum and is something we hear a lot, particularly around your daughter’s age. It’s definitely worth opening up the conversation with her, perhaps in a gentle and subtle way. For example, mentioning that you notice that she’s doing what others do a lot and is there anything you can do that would help her feel more confident.

@Parent_Coach_Mel will have some great advice on this too, I’m sure.

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Hello TiredMum I can see how this could be a concern. I just wondered if your daughter is unhappy about this, does she desire to take the lead? Or is she comfortable in not leading and making the decisions and happy going with the flow and being part of a group? Some children’s temperament and personality mean they are natural leaders and others are natural team players.

However, it is important that your daughter learns to stick up for herself. You could support her by trying some self-esteem and confidence building activities at home:

  • Heap on the praise and support – whatever it is that makes your daughter special (her personality traits such as kindness, loyalty, thinking of others, as well as practical things like working hard, putting effort into her schoolwork etc)
  • Give her specific responsible ‘chores’ at home such as setting the table or feeding a pet and routinely thank her for this and remind her of why it is such an important job.
  • Have regular dedicated quality sessions together. Open-ended activities are best such as drawing, role-play at the beauty salon, fashion show, gardening, construction toys etc
  • Ensure she has the chance to speak up and take responsibility at times e.g. “It’s D’s turn to choose the film we are going to watch tonight.”

At the dinner table – “D you can go first to tell us about something good or interesting that happened today.”

  • Give choices where possible. “Would you prefer to tidy your room before lunch or straight after lunch?”

If she comes to you with a friendship problem or issue, try to give her the space and opportunity to explain, then listen and empathise with her. Sometimes, in a bid to protect them, we can downplay their feelings and experience, or dive straight in to offer solutions or try to sort it out for them, but by giving her the chance to find solutions will help her learn to problem solve and become resilient. PLAN – Thinking for Themselves will take you how to do this effectively.

I hope this helps. Please do let us know how you get on.

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