Archive for Relational Aggression

 First do no harm.  When our kids tell us they‘ve been on the receiving end of emotional bullying, we want to help.  Our initial response, though, can be a deal maker or a deal breaker.  The goal is to help the individual open up and express herself, so she can then focus on choosing a solution that’s appropriate to her situation. 

 So, think of this as a great opportunity to be the door at which she comes a-knocking for help.  (Yes, you are the door!)  Your first remarks can either open that door up wide for further conversation or slam it shut in her face with the wrong comments.

 The good news is that the words to open up the conversation are simple and few, and she will do most of the talking.  You can pick or mix and match from this sample menu:

  • Tell me about it.
  • What was it like for you?
  • What would you like to have happen?
  • Let’s brainstorm some possible solutions.

 The door-slamming phrases are plentiful and common.  Stay away from these if you want to keep the lines of communication open.

  1. Oh, it can’t be that bad!
  2. Just be nice to them, dear, and they’ll be nice to you.
  3. Be mean back to her.
  4. Just go out to recess. It will be fine.
  5. Learn to take it. You’ll be a stronger person in the long run.
  6. Well, in my day it wasn’t this way.
  7. Girls are just mean!
  8. You’ll have to learn sooner or later that the world’s not a nice place.
  9. That’s just the way girls are.
  10. Learn to be friends with them.
  11. You won’t succeed in (middle school, high school, college, life) if you can’t take it now.
  12. I know what you mean.
  13. That’s the bad part about being female!
  14. I’m a man.  Go talk to your mother.
  15. Go play with boys then.  This doesn’t happen with them.
  16. Oh, I wish girls could be more like boys in handling problems.
  17. Your sister never had this problem.
  18. You’re only (5, 10, 15…).  Things could be much worse.
  19. You’re (10, 15, 20…). You should know how to handle this by now.
  20. You think that’s bad, just wait until you get out into the real world!

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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Recently I facilitated a When Girls Hurt Girls® Parent/Daughter Workshop for 4th and 5th grade girls and their parents.  After the girls were warmed up and engaged in role playing, problem solving, and asking lots of questions, I asked the girls to finish this statement…

“When it comes to my friendships, I wish my parents would…”  Here’s what they said…

1. Don’t Call It Drama 

Girls feel belittled when their parents make comments like, “Oh, it’s just girl drama.”  It is insulting and arrogant to refer to anyone’s problem as “just” anything.  Emotional bullying and friendship problems are serious for girls.  We owe it to them to take them and their problems seriously.

The opportunity to help girls grow their social skills when they are young will more than pay off as they grow older and deal with boyfriends, bosses, roommates, etc.

2. Listen

This was one of the most common wishes the girls had.  They wish their parents really listened to them.  They wish their parents knew what’s going on.  They wish they could feel comfortable talking with their parents about friendships.  They wish their parents understood them.

Here are three tips for listening to your daughter about friendship problems:

Tip # 1:  Set your advice aside.

Advice should only come after you’ve listened to your daughter and asked if she wants your advice.  When your daughter brings up a friendship problem, your initial reaction may be to help her solve it.  Squelch this urge.  Instead, set your ideas aside (for the moment) and really listen to what she is dealing with and how she feels.

Tip # 2:  Ask questions.

There are two important types of questions to ask:

– Questions about what happened (Then what happened?  What did you do then?).  Get a feel for what went on and who is involved (and if an adult saw what happened).

– Questions about how she feels (How did that feel?)  Help her put vocabulary to her emotions.

Tip # 3:  Be a mirror.

Being a mirror means helping your daughter see herself more clearly.  You can only support her in this way if you are being non-judgmental.

Repeat back what you are hearing – both what happened and how she is feeling.  For example, “It sounds like you feel embarrassed whenever Chelsea calls you names and won’t let you sit at her lunch table.”  Or, “I notice that you keep wanting to play with Anna, even after she treats you poorly.”

Being a mirror helps bring clarity to her situation.  From there she is better able to make a wise decision.

In part 2, I’ll cover [3. Leave Me  Alone] and [4. Help Me].

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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 Click Here to Read Part 1

“What do I do when I keep saying I’m sorry, but my friend won’t forgive me? Sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong!”

In this article I explore the way some girls manipulate apologies by feigning hurt or sadness to control the girls who allow them to do so.

Females and Apologizing

 Females have a tendency to apologize too much.  When someone bumps into us, we are inclined to apologize for being in someone’s way.  If our kids forget to take their lunches to school, we apologize for not noticing as they raced through the door without their lunch boxes.  And if someone has hurt feelings, we rack our brains to figure out what we might have done to cause their pain.  Is it any wonder then that girls apologize to friends who hold them hostage through the manipulation of apologies?

It’s All About Connections

This is oh-so-common in girls’ world, so let’s look at it through the lens of connections.  The female brain seeks connections to others because of its organic hard wiring.  Let’s see how this plays out with elementary or junior high school girls.

A Typical Story

Girl A and Girl B are a part of a larger friendship group.  Girl A has been bossy and hurtful to Girl B.  Girl A’s intention is to separate herself from the person who causes her pain.

Girl B – I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.  You’re mean! 

Girl A (beginning to cry) –That’s not true!

Girl B – It is too!  (She walks away from Girl A).

Girl A begins crying harder.  The other girls in the group notice this.  They approach her and listen to her story about Girl B not wanting to be friends with her.  The group of girls approach Girl B and admonish her for hurting Girl A’s feelings.  Girl A returns to Girl B to apologize.

Analysis of the Situation

All of the girls in this scenario were motivated by their need for connections. 

Girl A wanted either to stay connected to Girl B or strengthen her connection with the group.  She cried to manipulate an outcome.  The crying could have been authentic due to upset feelings, but the outcome desired was a connection.  A girl who learns to use this powerful manipulation technique to her advantage often is able to get what she wants.  Unfortunately for her, however, she risks becoming unable to ask directly for what she needs.  Crying or blaming others lasts only as long as the group is unaware of her MO.  This girl eventually may only become capable of surface relationships, need to change friends or switch jobs frequently, or become a leader through the abuse of power at the expense of others.

Girl B wanted to disconnect from Girl A, but her desire for group connection was much stronger than her need to unhook from an undesirable relationship.  The ultimate hope for Girl B is to realize her needs won’t always be compatible with a group’s need for cohesiveness, and it’s OK to leave a group that is hurtful or unhealthy.  The best-case scenario for this girl is to come to understand that group membership needn’t supersede her need for health, safety, well-being, or happiness.  The worst outcome is that this girl will stay in abusive relationships.

The Group saw Girl B’s behavior – as explained by Girl A – as divisive.  It caused ripples in group cohesiveness.  Of course, if the girls had waited to listen to both sides of the story, the outcome may have been different.  The pressure to change or apologize could have been transferred to Girl A.  Groups usually tend to the greatest reaction first, though.  They act first and ask questions later.  Group cohesiveness at all costs creates a tendency to overlook and undervalue individuals’ needs.  This can lead to reality blindness and the loss of thinking for oneself.  Girls who only follow the crowd are, well, only followers.  Opportunities to become transformational leaders and creative thinkers become slimmer.

Back to the Question

 So, how can we help girls who keep apologizing even when they know there is nothing for which to apologize?  There’s a 1, 2, 3 answer.  Teach them to:

  1. Ask questions to learn the other person’s perspective.
  2. Honestly examine their behaviors to determine whether they own part of the problem.
  3. Trust their personal power guidance system, listen to their heart or gut and act accordingly, and own their behavior only.

 How Expensive is This Friendship?

Taking responsibility for someone’s hurt when you didn’t cause it doesn’t help anyone.  It’s a way to stay stuck for both parties involved.  Apologizing for a hurt you did not cause in order to keep a friend or group acceptance is very expensive.  It costs you your self-respect by holding you a prisoner of someone else’s wants and needs by sacrificing your own.  Please help the girls in your life to understand this.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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We should never do for children what they can do for themselves. Girls can and do work through their own friendship problems — we should trust them to learn and grow through their experiences. The girls who have these problem-solving skills can use them for a lifetime!

So what can you do to empower girls to solve issues from a young age? You can instill confidence and problem solving skills in girls by being reassuring when friends clash. Remove yourself from their emotional drama, and take the opportunity to talk about these three concepts:

Conflict is normal and friendship problems are common. Rather than playing into the drama of friendship problems, make the situation matter-of-fact. Try using yourself as a point of reference to let them know, “Oh, yeah, I know what that’s like. I’ve had that happen to me, too.” Then they’ll realize that conflict is part of everyday life.

Problems can be solved. Girls can learn that even though they have a disagreement, it doesn’t have a stay a disagreement. We can teach them to ask questions to resolve arguments and issues. We should work with girls to improve their listening skills so they understand another girl’s point of view. Tone of voice also plays a role in good communication.

We’re here to help, not solve. By showing faith in girls and their problem-solving abilities, we adults show them that we trust them. Make sure they know your door is open if they need help.

Let’s make a pact. Let’s stop swooping in to solve problems for our girls. Trust in their abilities! Be available to them. Nurture their social intelligence and communication skills to create independent problem solving, and you’ll be taking a huge leap toward fostering well-balanced, confident girls. What could be a better gift for the girl in your life?

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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When Girls Hurt Girls® Helps Educators Start Relational Aggression Prevention in Kindergarten
Free Live Teleclass for Educators, Counselors and Youth Groups

Relational aggression (a.k.a. RA or emotional bullying) can begin among girls as young as 2.5 years old. Early prevention is the key to happy, well-balanced girls, and educators, counselors and youth group leaders can get the help they need to start young girls off right. On Thursday, March 3, 2011, at 3:30 p.m. central time, A Way Through, LLC, will conduct the second of two content-rich calls focused on helping young girls through friendship problems. Register now for “When Girls Hurt Girls®: 3 Compelling Reasons to Start RA Prevention in Kindergarten (And How to Do It Right)” at www.awaythrough.com/teleclass. The live teleclass is free; the audio/transcript download is available for $5. 

“Most people think of relational aggression as a ’tween or teen problem, but research indicates that relational aggression starts as young as age 2.5. As soon as girls start making friends, their emotionally charged wiring can result in emotional bullying,” said Jane Balvanz, an elementary school counselor and co-founder of A Way Through, LLC. “Fortunately, girls this age and in kindergarten through grade 2 are very open to adult guidance, so it’s a great time to share the tools and techniques they need to work through their own issues.”

“As adults, we must stop swooping in to solve problems for our girls. This sends them the wrong message — that we don’t trust in their abilities,” said Blair Wagner, co-founder of A Way Through, LLC. “Instead, let’s work with them to nurture their self confidence. Let’s help them groom their social skills, so they can speak up, think of others’ feelings, and become independent problem solvers who can manage anything life throws at them.”

With this teleclass, A Way Through celebrates the completion of its curricula for When Girls Hurt Girls® Grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. The Grades K-2 curriculum will be complete in March with the release of the Audio CDs and Role Play Cards to accompany the K-2 Parent Pack. These age-appropriate materials introduce two new techniques that enable educators and parents to coach girls who are not yet able to read and provide responses that allow girls to think and feel for themselves.

Those who attend the teleclass will learn how to receive a limited time offer on these materials. Register for the teleclass and purchase the teleclass transcript and audio files at www.awaythrough.com/teleclass.

About A Way Through, LLC

A Way Through, LLC, equips educators and parents to guide girls in grades K-8 through painful friendships. The company developed When Girls Hurt Girls®, a series of CDs, educational guides and other products, to empower girls to solve their own friendship problems. A Way Through also offers workshops for schools, youth organizations and others to help educators, parents and girls handle the difficult situations girls face with relational aggression. For details, see www.AWayThrough.com.

“What do I do when I keep saying I’m sorry, but my friend won’t forgive me? Sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong!” 

This is a standard question girls ask, and it boils down to one major factor. Girls are reluctant to address conflict directly.

And it’s not a matter of being too nice or unassertive.  It’s a matter of brain wiring and also not knowing what to do.  Girls are wired to be relationship connectors, and conflict is viewed as a BIG disconnect.  Thus, it’s is avoided at all costs – even at the cost of a friendship.

Here’s a pattern of reasoning that makes the question above so difficult for girls to resolve.  Let’s say that Girl A asked the question, and Girl B is the unforgiving friend.

Girl A’s reasoning:

  1. I upset my friend and need to apologize.
  2. I apologized, but she won’t forgive me.
  3. I’ll keep apologizing until she forgives me.
  4. I’m upset, because my friend won’t forgive me.

Girl B’s reasoning:

  1. My friend hurt my feelings.
  2. She apologized, but I’m still hurt.
  3. I don’t know how to tell her how much she hurt me.  She might not like me if I do.
  4. I won’t talk to her, because I don’t know how to make this better.

As you see here, we have a failure to communicate. When you dissect the reasoning, you see that #3 for both girls is the sticking point.  Girl A keeps apologizing, but Girl B won’t say how much she was hurt.  And so the circle goes.

Fortunately, there is a solution.  It comes in the direct teaching of social skills in the areas of how to extend an apology for Girl A and how to express your feelings and speak up when you’re hurt for Girl B.

Girl A needs to know that not all friends forgive, and one apology plus a further check in is all she can do.  She must learn to move on.  Girl B needs much practice in speaking up assertively when a conflict occurs instead of hiding behind the façade of being unforgiving.  She must learn how to speak up to ask for what she needs in a friendship or how to move on from one that’s untenable.

Now is it just me, or did anyone else detect a smidge of manipulation in the question above?  You know, the part that says sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong.  In Part 2, I’ll address the emotional bullying technique of keeping a friend hostage through the manipulation of apologies.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC  

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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Feb
10

Appearance on Iowa Public Radio

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Hi, everyone! Jane and Blair here. We’ve been so busy working on our K-2 audio and role play cards for When Girls Hurt Girls®, we almost forgot to mention that we were on the radio in January! We were so excited to be asked to be on “Talk of Iowa” on Iowa Public Radio to share insights on guiding girls through emotional bullying.

To hear us on the show, please listen on our Media page at: www.awaythrough.com/media.htm or click here.

Thank you to Iowa Public Radio and “Talk of Iowa” host Charity Nebbe for addressing this important topic and including A Way Through in the conversation!

And please join us on March 3 at 3:30 p.m. Central Time for a detailed teleclass series (#2 of 2), “When Girls Hurt Girls®: 3 Compelling Reasons to Start Relational Aggression Prevention in Kindergarten (and How to Do It Right).” Get details and register now at www.awaythrough.com/teleclass!

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What Do You Wish You Knew?

When I facilitate girl-to-girl friendship mentoring training sessions for middle school girls, I start with a question.  I ask… What is the most important thing you know about friendships you wish you knew in elementary school?

The girls think about this for a moment, and here is what they typically say:

1. You’ll have different friends in middle school

Girls entering middle school are surprised to discover their friendships change.  Cliques (or posses) they thought were permanent tend to evolve or dissolve when they enter their middle school years.  This creates new friendship opportunities.

Girls also report that multiple sports and activities introduce new groups of friendships to them.  Girls new to middle school are pleased to learn they can be part of multiple friendship groups.

Their advice for elementary school girls:  Try out new friendships in addition to your regular friends.

2.  You’ll like girls you didn’t like in elementary school

Often very young girls think if someone is not their friend, she must be their enemy.  They draw rigid lines around friendships.

Middle school girls say they’ve learned to open up to new friendships and new kinds of friends, even girls they didn’t like before.  They have a wider range of friends.

Their advice for elementary school girls:  Be open to new friendships with girls you didn’t think you’d like.

3.  It gets better

Middle school girls report they had a harder time with friendships in elementary school.  They say friendships get easier as they get older.

Their advice for elementary school girls:  Don’t worry if things don’t go well in a friendship.  It will keep getting easier.

Relational Aggression in Middle School

Interestingly, relational aggression and female bullying tends to peak in the middle school years.  Girls this age who have the opportunity to learn about friendship dynamics and discover how to be positive advocates for themselves and for others see friendship problems shrink.  They become empowered and love to share their wisdom with younger girls!

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC  

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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I have long been thinking about the word civility.  When President Obama used the word in his speech at the memorial service for those killed and injured on January 8, 2011, in Tuscon, Arizona, I felt compelled to write about it.  The purpose of this article is to look at the function of civility in relationship to relational aggression. 

Civility is courtesy or politeness, a formal politeness and courteousness in speech and behavior.  Its synonym is mannerliness.  We commonly use the word nice instead of civil, especially with young children. Often the word respect is used instead of civility.  They are very close cousins.  But when someone has been relationally aggressive toward you, has acted as your emotional bully, it’s hard to address them with respect.  Respect means we hold the one who has bullied in some manner of esteem.  Truthfully,  “some manner of esteem” could be particularly low esteem.

Yes, I am quibbling over semantics.  Yet when I look at the opposite meaning of civility, I see all the qualities that make up relational aggression: rudeness, back talk, inconsideration, disrespect, and inappropriateness.  When extrapolated out into the adult world, we can see how our youth are exposed to incivility daily.  There are examples in international relations, media coverage, talk shows, in our homes, and out on the street.  Incivility breeds incivility.

When relational aggression happens to our daughters, students, or girls in our charge, use the opportunity to talk about civility.  Repeated relational aggression will need some type of response, and a civil response or action will have a greater chance of ending bullying than an uncivil one.  Civility breeds civility and has a good chance of leading to respect.

Begin teaching the word civility to children by third grade.  They will catch on quickly, especially if they hear it repeated.  It will help them understand bullying and friendship problems in a deeper, richer way.  Use everyday situations to illustrate the meaning.  Here are a couple of examples:

(In the media) “Those two people are world leaders.  They aren’t showing much respect to each other.  If they want to solve their problems, they need to show civility when they speak to each other no matter how much they disagree.”

(Daily life) “Mia has bullied you for quite some time, but you haven’t spoken up to her yet.  I know you don’t like her and what she does, but when you speak up to her, speak civilly.”

I admit I am a Wordie (I love words!).  I also like offering kids the opportunity to expand their vocabularies.  Introducing the word civility helps to increase their social and emotional verbiage.  So, am I suggesting the words “nice” and “respect” to be passé or misused?  Absolutely not!  But if you know some inquisitive kiddos who question speaking respectfully to someone they do not respect, speaking civilly might make more sense to them.  In that case, civility turns out to be a pretty “nice” word.  I hope you can respect that.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC  

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

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Resolution #1:  I resolve to stand up for myself.

Resolution #2:  I resolve to pay attention to which friends feel good to be around and which friends don’t.

Resolution #3:  I resolve to walk away from situations I don’t want to be part of.

Resolution #4:  I resolve to think about what I want in a friend.

Resolution #5:  I resolve to smile at girls who don’t have friends.

Resolution #6:  I resolve to be a Positive Active Bystander™ when I see bullying.

Resolution #7:  I resolve to practice using a strong voice.

Resolution #8:  I resolve to ask for friendship help from a trusted adult when I need it.

Resolution #9:  I resolve to be honest with my friends.

Resolution #10:  I resolve to trust my gut over what anyone else says.

Resolution #11:  I resolve to stand tall.

Resolution #12:  I resolve to avoid negative text messages.

Resolution #13:  I resolve to do what feels right to me.

Resolution #14:  I resolve to try out new friends.

Resolution #15:  I resolve to say goodbye to friendships that aren’t healthy for me.

Resolution #16:  I resolve to ask questions when I realize I’m making assumptions.

Resolution #17:  I resolve to let go of sarcasm.

Resolution #18:  I resolve to speak up instead of get revenge.

Resolution #19:  I resolve to say how I feel.

Resolution #20:  I resolve to respect myself as much as I respect my friends.

Resolution #21:  I resolve to look for friends who treat others kindly.

Resolution #22:  I resolve to ignore negative gestures.

Resolution #23:  I resolve to stick with friends I can trust.

Resolution #24:  I resolve to be open to making lots of friends.

Resolution #25:  I resolve to avoid gossip and rumors.

Resolution #26:  I resolve to stay away from friends who manipulate and use relational aggression.

Resolution #27:  I resolve to keep others’ secrets private.

Resolution #28:  I resolve to talk to girls who are being given the silent treatment.

Resolution #29:  I resolve to never say, “Just kidding.”

Resolution #30:  I resolve to be myself.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC  

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com

Untitled Document When Girls Hurt Girls™ Parent Pack

Do you feel unequipped to help your daughter or students navigate painful friendships?

Finally, the instruction manual you need to help your Kindergarten – Grade 8 daughter or students find their way through painful friendships
.


Listen to the program introduction here.

When Girls Hurt Girls™ is a home practice guide for parents who want to help their hurting daughters, but don’t know where to start. It's also PERFECT for use in school or small group settings.

Through loving discussions and role-play exercises, your daughter or students will connect with their personal power and gain the confidence to resolve conflicts and attract the right kind of friendships to their lives.

REMEMBER: Works great for educators and group/team leaders too!  

Untitled Document


Do you need help in guiding your daughter through a difficult friendship situation?

Finally, 1-on-1 personalized help is available to assist you in guiding your daughter through her friendship problems now!

Introducing a new way to get support…

Our new Quick Assist program has been developed for parents who want help that’s tailored to their specific situation. Through no-nonsense strategy sessions, you will gain clarity on what to say to your daughter, what not to say, and how you can become a source of inspiration and support for her.

REMEMBER: Works great for educators and group/team leaders too!  
Click here
to learn more about the Quick Assist package.