Friends are Priceless by Shayna Fischer/ Girl Scouts of NEO
“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold…” This famous Girl Scout song compares friendship to precious metals, but I would argue that true friends are priceless. My name is Shayna and I work for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio. I was a Girl Scout during my grade school years and came full circle after college by working to support Girl Scout volunteers in my professional career. Why am I so passionate about Girl Scouts, you ask? Not only did it instill in me the qualities of “courage, confidence, and character,” it also connected me with my very best friend!
In sixth grade, I remember spending time with my troop at camp sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and singing songs. The girl to my left was singing as loudly and off-key as I was… she was new to my school, and I liked her immediately. We started talking about our passions- we both loved reading and dogs, and were joining the marching band! Before we knew it, we were two peas in a pod. Sixteen years later, that same girl will be singing (loudly and off-key, of course) at my wedding in a few months. Through the ups and downs of life, I know that our friendship is priceless.
According to the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) article Friendship Really is Magic, there are studies indicating that when a girl has a friend by her side:
physical obstacles seem smaller and less daunting
she’s motivated to work harder and aim higher
the transition to middle school goes a lot more smoothly
her stress levels go down and her general health improves
and physical or emotional pain feels a bit more manageable.
Doesn’t that sound priceless? So, in a world where people can have thousands of “friends” on social media but still feel lonely in real-life, what steps can you take to ensure that your daughter makes quality friends? As a parent, there are many ways you can help your girl cultivate strong relationships and point her in the right social direction.
If your girl tends to be on the shy side, or struggles to make new friends, try working with her to roleplay social scenarios she might encounter. “Come up with real-life situations she might be confronted with,” suggests Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “If they are in the lunch line together, how can she start a conversation? Asking about pets, commenting on the other girl’s shirt (‘I like giraffes, too!’), or even a simple, ‘Want to play?’ can open the door to new friendships.” Practice how she can give sincere compliments or offer to share something- the more she makes these gestures, the more opportunities she’s creating to expand her circle of friends.
A fun way to bond with your girl could be to tell her the stories of how you met some of your close friends that she knows. Were you roommates in college? Did you meet on the volleyball team back in high school? Showing your girl that you went through the same “getting-to-know-you” phase- and ended up with lasting friendships- will help her feel more confident in her abilities. For more great examples of ways to break the ice, check out the article Making Friends: 7 Simple Icebreakers Even Shy Girls Will Love.
Set a Good Example
You know your daughter looks up to you, so make an effort to model positive interactions with your own friends. When you have disagreements, think about what your daughter sees- set a good example by listening without judgement and making a sincere apology if you were in the wrong. The GSUSA article Help Her Find Her Girl Squad states, “Believe it or not, your behavior can have a big impact on your daughter’s budding social life. By being a good listener and supporter to the friends in your life (and explaining why those are great qualities in a friend), she’ll be set up to be a superstar buddy.” Be sure to treat your own friends with respect at all times, and your girl will pick up on these cues. The best way to teach her to be a good friend is by showing her what a good friend YOU are. As a bonus, your own friendships will reap the benefits of these conscious efforts!
Provide an Opportunity
Yes, your girl can make friends at school, but think about expanding her social circle by signing up for a dance class, sports team, library program… or maybe even a Girl Scout troop. “Introduce her to a host of different activities,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Not only is it a great way to try new things, but it can help your daughter form friendships with children who share her interests.” The key word here is interests- be sure to listen to what activities spark your daughter’s attention and let her try them out!
When you’re able to, try saying “yes” to driving a carpool, hosting a slumber party, or taking your girl to a group play date. The extra effort will be worth it, as it is an investment in her happiness and overall wellbeing.
In case anyone was wondering, the song I mentioned back in the first sentence ends with “a circle’s round, it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend!” I wish you and your daughters many priceless friendships.