Tarney might be like your daughter. She ranked herself mid to bottom of her friendship group’s peaking order and was continually upset and frustrated by the popular girl’s lack of regard for her. They would talk over the top of her, walk away from her when someone more interesting came along and selectively invited her to sleepovers. Tarney was there, but felt invisible.
The girls in her group were growing up at varying paces and had very different personalities. This contributed to their different interest and body sizes. The biggest concern Tarney had was where to position herself when gossip started. Joining in with gossip seemed to help her social status, but made her feel bad about herself.
I knew our session had made an impact on her, so I photographed the whiteboard we used, hoping it could help others. Here are some of the key things Tarney and I talked about:
It takes a lot more than ‘character’ to get along at school. You have to be interesting. Being interesting includes taking risks, telling exciting stories and using initiative. This is not easy when you feel insecure. You can help your daughter by planning a few extraordinary weekend events which she can either invite a friend to or plaster all over social media. These will give her something to talk about.
Your daughter may not see herself as the leader of the group but she can lead herself. I always tell girls that if they don’t fit into the environment that others create, they need to use initiative to create an environment others will want to be a part of. Tarney and I decided to create a sleepover that was INCREDIBLE, instead of complaining about what happened at the last sleepover she attended.
Gossip feels good at first but then it makes everyone feel terrible. De-emotionalising a situation is an art for an adult let alone a teenager. The bottom line is when gossip starts you can either add fuel to the fire or create a more positive environment. Tarney was receiving text messages that contained gossip. We decided to send a funny vine video about 20 minutes after the text was sent to help re-direct attention. This way she didn’t have to get involved with the gossip. It worked really well.
Saying It How It Is (Without Being Offensive)
Girls do need to learn to be assertive without being rude or nasty. One of the biggest lessons for girls is to talk directly to the person who is offending them. Never talk to others and never talk to the person in front of others. One on one, using facts and honesty usually works best. Tarney was coming across bossy, because she hadn’t learnt to neutralise her language. We worked on exactly what to say and how to frame her sentences.
Tough questions your daughter can ask herself:
How interesting am I?
How much am I holding back?
Am I fun to be around?
What was the last exciting thing I did?
How am I trying to assert myself now? Is it working?
What is my greatest fear in regard to confrontation?
Does my response to gossip create more emotion or less emotion?
How can I re-direct people’s attention away from gossip?
How can I shut down gossip without offending
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What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at www.michellemitchell.org for $24.95 plus postage.