Love Them Anyway: Helping your Preteen Show Compassion to Friends Who Have Hurt Them

Earlier this week, my ten-year-old and I were able to have some quality time, just she and I. She had appointments, and in between we had several heart to hearts that reminded me how much she really does worry about and think about and really wants to talk about.

She is a pretty independent and quiet child, and it can be easy to want to buy it when she says “everything is ok.”

As parents, we owe it to our kids to dig a little deeper. Ask a few more questions:

  • Who do they hang out with at recess?
  • Who are their five favorite friends?
  • Ask about friends you know they’ve spent time with in the past.
  • Ask what they talk about with their friends, and who their friends are friends with.

As I posed these questions to her, she was more than happy to answer them and it led us to a discussion about mean girls.

She was not concerned about her close friends being mean, but concerned about who her close friends are surrounding themselves with. We have a rating school for mean girls based on a movie we watch, An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. I asked, “On the Chrissa movie scale, how mean are these girls? Like Sonali (acting mean to fit in) or like Tara (full on mean)?” She answered, “Not Tara. More like Sonali.” We agreed that was good. Sonali had likable qualities, and you could always tell she didn’t want to be mean.

Then she shared that a good friend had said something hurtful. It wasn’t intentionally hurtful, but just one of those comparison moments “mine is better than yours” type of comments. It still stung and I reminded her that she had made comments like that before, but wanted to be forgiven and didn’t really mean it. She knew it was the wrong thing to say as soon as it came out of her mouth, and more than likely so did this friend.

That led us to the discussion of loving them anyway. We talked about how Chrissa kept being an example of kindness in front of the other girls, and eventually won them over. We talked about how easy it can be to write someone off due to one rude comment or choice. But we want others to give us second chances. We make poor choices and want to be forgiven. We’ve all said things we wish we could take back. She assured me that she did and was all smiles. The incident was now old news and water under the bridge.

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