childrenFrenemies: Navigating the Stormy Waters of Childhood Friendships

Are we doing all we can in helping children navigate difficult relationships? What should or can a parent do when their child gets into a friendship where there is a big power imbalance? What is the fine line between bossy and bullying? How can you nurture your child’s resiliency and self-esteem while letting them learn their own lessons?

How can you help your child be a better friend and still stand up for themselves? In this podcast we hear stories of meanness, exclusion and empathy and get a tip for our “EQ Parenting Toolkit” to help us navigate our own emotions as parents and model healthy emotional boundaries for our kids.

children friendshipsI remember a friend my son had when he was 7. He was active, creative, and smart. He also had a tendency to act without thinking and quite often my child would end up injured as a result. Once he heaved a heavy rock and hit my son in the chest, knocking him flat.

It was nerve wracking, and my “mother bear” protective instincts were often being triggered. How much should we intervene, and how much can we let these moments be about learning to navigate one’s emotions?

child-girls-running-blur-greenAs a young girl, I was part of a trio of best friends, and “Jenny” was clearly the boss. She decided who would come to her house and what game we would play. She always got the leading role in any make believe game, be it playing “house” or “pirates”. One of us was always being left out. Later I came to understand it was all about her insecurity about being liked, but then it felt like vying for the queen’s attention and being one of her subjects. I never asked my parents what to do, I just went along.

What happens when you feel a friend is actually being mean to your kid? Or bossing them around mercilessly? How do you respond as a parent? Emotionally, we want to protect our kids from physical and psychological harm. We also want them to learn to navigate emotions and draw their own boundaries. If it’s your kid doing the bossing, how do you talk to them about what being a good friend looks like?

In this 6th episode of “Raising Humans” we take a look at friendships where there is a serious power imbalance and what lessons about life can be learned from this situation.

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