Saturday, June 21, 2014
#BanBossy--Teaching my Daughter How to Resolve Conflict
I got a call from my daughter's Bestie's Mom, C. "Did you know that E and M are not speaking to each other?"
"No. What gives?" I asked.
"I'm not sure," said C. "I think it has something to do with a misunderstanding about the movie last week."
A little background here.
E asked me if I could take her and M to the movie on Sunday. There were a group of girls going to see "A Fault in Our Stars."
I said, "Yes, but I'm going too. You're too young to be unaccompanied by an adult."
Saturday afternoon, some of the girls were on Skype and informed E that the movie activity had been moved to THAT night, Saturday. E asked me if she could still go.
"What about M? Have you called her to see if she can go too?"
"No, but I'm going to do that right now."
E tried to call M but was unable to reach her. She left a message. We went to the movie. It was a gaggle of teenage girls watching a tear-jerking movie that I was unprepared for and ended up sobbing into my popcorn butter laced napkin. The girls were comforting each other as one of the main characters died a tragic young death.
Back to the phone call:
C was concerned because her daughter, M, wasn't supposed to walk home alone from school (E & M walk home together), and E and M weren't speaking and so M went to the library so C could pick her up after school.
"What should we do?" She asked
"I think the girls simply don't know what to do to resolve this and so they're doing nothing, which means not speaking to each other. What are you doing tonight?" I asked.
We made arrangements to have dinner together with the two girls. I decided I better read a little bit about conflict resolution with teenagers and girls. I found this cool thing called #BanBossy. It's about teaching girls how to be assertive-instead of aggressive. It teaches using "I" statements when one is trying to resolve a disagreement or conflict.
For example, "I feel (insert emotion) when you (insert action other person has done to offend). Please (insert solution to said problem).
The Girl Scouts have an entire lesson plan on this that is in a PDF form. Here is a brochure for leaders:
Here is the lesson plan:
I looked at it quickly and threw off an email to C asking her whether she thought this was a good thing to use with the girls. We texted and emailed and decided to try it.
Dinner went well. We chit-chatted but the girls were not really looking at each other or saying much. C and I were asking questions and engaging each others child in conversation. After we had finished eating I whipped out the Girl Scout lesson plan and so did C.
We started talking about how sometimes it's really hard to talk to someone when you're upset with them. Learning how to argue fairly is a skill.
We reminded the girls that there are going to be days when they don't even like each other but friendship is a commitment and requires work. You don't just abandon a friendship because of a disagreement.
C & I opened the lesson plan. Part of it was to engage the girls by asking them about instances where they've had problems at home or at school and how they could use this new technique of using "I" statements to resolve the issues.
The floodgates opened as the girls relayed to us that they had been having a conflict with one particular girl all school year long. They had brought it to their teachers attention during a special session called "Advisory," but things had not changed.
We were able to practice, doing some role playing and the girls spoke to each other respectfully about their misunderstanding, and resolved the problem.
We reminded them that this is going to be something they have to practice. It doesn't come naturally to talk to each other this way, but learning how to resolve conflict is a skill set that needs to be taught, and learned.
I was reminded that my daughter, although she is a young woman, still needs me to teach her life skills.
I was also grateful that C felt comfortable calling me and bring up the problem. Without her intervention, neither girl would have learned the other's side of the story, and it would have been a tragic loss of friendship.
Doctor Diva 6/21/14