by Dr. Joseph Mallet
While as parents we want our children to be well rounded and well adjusted, pre-teen and teen girls’ identity and self worth is often defined by being included or excluded from the social group. This is especially hard on girls. Because of girls’ need for emotional connectedness they take rejection or exclusion especially hard. Not being invited to an anticipated or spontaneous social event is devastating. It won’t be the last time. It happens, and learning how to respond to such a situation is critical to overall development at this age. Responding in a highly emotional and erratic manner only gives the group more concern about the girl that was excluded, and in a sense justifies the exclusion. While it is difficult to learn, it is important to teach girls to respond to rejection in a calm manner while demonstrating self-confidence and self-security. Positive self-talk like “that’s OK, I can invite others to my house for a movie,” and “They have the right to invite whomever they want to their house, that’s fine with me”, and “you don’t want to be my friend, that’s OK I have others who I can talk to.” Acknowledging the disappointment, yet remaining happy and well-adjusted through disappointment will give the impression and the reality of maturity and stability that is important in social groups. Individuals and groups dislike constant drama and find it unsettling. Maintaining a friendly and respectful attitude toward others makes us more attractive as a friend individually and as part of a group.