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Back to school: when friendships go wrong

At Inkpots, we’re proud to create an environment full of kindness and respect, but when school friendships go wrong, they can have a seemingly devastating impact on your child. Perhaps the person they stuck close to has betrayed them, or they find themselves isolated within a group. What can you do to help and advise your child to get their friendship back on track? Here are some pointers to get you started!

Listen and give them time – as an adult, solutions to friendship dilemmas can seem simple. However, things can become tricker when communications break down between young people. Instead of offering immediate fixes, encourage your child to open up about the situation and listen to them. Give them time to figure out the best course of action; usually arguments work out on their own and everyone forgets what the initial cause was!

Don’t downplay – while you’re taking the time to listen, don’t try to minimise the situation with phrases such as ‘at least you have other friends’ or ‘think of how lucky you are.’ Although you’re putting problems into perspective, your child is likely looking for validation from you, and these remarks may make them feel guilty instead. 

Acknowledge mistakes – help your child acknowledge any mistakes they’ve made within their argument. Encourage them to apologise and be open minded, or to listen to other people involved. Make sure they also express any hurt they’ve experienced in a polite but assertive way; it’s important for them to stand up for themselves without letting the problem escalate.

Remind them they are loved – small, thoughtful gestures may help your child feel at ease, especially if they are anxious about going to school during a fall out. If you can, drop them a text during the school day to show them they are in your thoughts, or put a note in their lunchbox. Remind them they are worthy of other friendships even if this particular one doesn’t work out.

Distract them – friendship problems can become all consuming and distract from other commitments like school or hobbies. Encourage your child to put extra effort into activities they enjoy to take their thoughts away from their friends. Trying new things could mean they make new friends in the process!

Seek further help – if however, you do find that friendship problems are affecting your child’s school work or overall mental health, there is support available. First stop should be to talk to a member of staff at school if the children are at the same school. Alternatively, visit Childline or Young Minds which have some brilliant advice and counsellors available to lend an ear.

Hopefully, these steps will help you comfort your child during what can be a difficult time and make the situation easier to deal with. This post also concludes our back to school series – check out our other tips for an easy transition here and here!

Lucy

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