My oldest daughter will be 11 years old soon and she is stuck in that pre-teen whirlwind of getting her feelings hurt almost every day for feeling like her friends are leaving her out and ignoring her. She cries nearly every night because she feels like she doesn’t have very many friends at school or in our close-knit neighborhood any more. It just breaks my heart to see her going through this. I was hoping she could escape it for a couple more years. Isn’t 11 years old too early for this to be happening?!
At first, I wasn’t sure how to deal with her emotion about her friends and I was surprised that all of a sudden (almost over night) that her friends were so very important to her sense of self and purpose. She began to feel that she wasn’t good at anything and that no one liked her. She is super fun to be around and is very good at anything creative. She is a little shy and quiet but she gets over it quickly when she knows someone well.
As I prayed and pondered what I could do to help her, the answer came that I needed to build up her self-confidence a lot more than I had been. I started spending more one-on-one time with her and gave her lots of hugs and told her how great she was at things she did. I have also tried to make an effort to invite more friends over to our house to play. All these things have helped quite a lot. However, a few nights ago as I was tucking her in, she was having anxiety about friends again and was starting to get emotional before bed.
I talked to her about how her friends would come and go, but that her younger sister looked up to her so much and would be a friend for life. Over the last year or so, they had been bickering quite a bit and really hadn’t enjoyed playing together as much as they previously had. I thought it was the 3 year age gap, but a lot of it was probably because my older daughter was desperately seeking out other friends in the neighborhood and at school.
This conversation about her sister calmed my daughter and she went to sleep that night
easily and without the anxiety that she usually has at bedtime. I noticed that the next couple days my girls were playing together more. This brought so much joy and happiness to me because I knew it was what they both needed. Despite their age gap, they still have a lot in common and like to do the same things. I love seeing them play together and showing one another how it feels to have a sister.
What special bonds do your girls have? What do you do to foster those bonds? Please share them with us in the comments section.
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