Parent Partnerships 

 Tricky Friendship Days

by Michelle Mitchell



Relatively small issues, like not being invited to a party, can arouse big, intense feelings in our kids. Because belonging is at stake, friendship challenges will always feel like a life-threatening experience – so be assured that most parents find themselves dealing with powerful tears and shattering disappointments after tricky friendship days.


It is easy for both parents and teachers to fall into the trap of trying to “dial down the drama” when our kids feel overwhelmed. However, minimising or dismissing strong feelings will only tend to ramp them up, because our tween’s brains seek to be heard and understood in the process of regulating. I’d also like to suggest that it denies our children the opportunity to master these big feelings. Our kids need to feel to practise the emotional regulation strategies they need to navigate life well.


I want to share three practical strategies that parents can do to support their tweens during these moments. Friendship challenges are an incredibly rich platform to help kids learn emotional regulation strategies, as well as social skills, and we want to capitalise on both as we coach them forward.

Strategy 1: Let’s not fight the intensity

The more I learn about emotions the more I am in awe of our body’s way of coming up with solutions to discomfort, anguish and pain we experience. It doesn’t make any sense to judge that process but rather appreciate it. That’s why we want tweens to know there are no bad or good emotions. There are only healthy emotions, and each one of them is an acceptable and necessary part of being human. Ideally, we want tweens to feel safe to feel, without shame or guilt.  This means accepting emotions within our home, in the same way we accept anything else about ourselves (or our experiences) that we cannot change – our age, our height, freckles or ears.

Strategy 2: Ask questions that empower

Although it’s tempting (and much quicker) to offer children prescription answers to friendship problems, it won’t help them in the long term. The problem with childhood conflict always being followed by adult intervention, is that kids can get into the habit of projecting their wishful thinking onto someone else who they perceive as being more powerful than they are.

If our children focus their energy on recruiting support rather than problem-solving, they miss vital learning opportunities. We are best to ask questions that express a sense of curiosity and empower them to take ownership.

Strategy 3: Find a positive expression

Whereas there are times that we suppress our painful emotions for our own survival, emotions are far better off moving through our kids rather than festering inside them.


One of my dearly loved local psychotherapists wisely tells me that children who have imaginations become their own play therapists. Play is a distraction that pulls kids out of their heads and into their bodies. Any type of play including immersing themselves in craft, participating in drama, dance, or sport, or building forts, slides and adventure courses are all helpful.

In closing

Home really is the hero in kids’ lives. It is the emotional shield from all that hurts us, bothers us, and tires us. It’s a place where love is tangible, and we are cared for in ways that make it easier for us to move back into the world with a soft heart. It’s the Utopia that we all yearn for and strive towards. When they feel disappointed, lost, afraid or disoriented it will be the predictability of home that continues to welcome them with open arms and wise words. As you implement these strategies, know you are offering your tween the home they deserve.

Michelle Mitchell presents: Handling tricky friendship days

Our school has a membership with Parenting Ideas. As part of this membership, you can attend the upcoming webinar ‘Handling tricky friendship days’ at no cost.


In this webinar, Michelle Mitchell offers a set of practical guiding principles to help empower children to handle tricky friendship days.


Wednesday 2 November 2022 8:00pm AEDT

To redeem

  1. Click this link: 
  2. Click ‘Add to cart’
  3. Click ‘View cart’
  4. Enter the coupon code FRIENDS and click ‘Apply Coupon’ Your discount of $39 will be applied.
  5. Click ‘Proceed to checkout’
  6. Fill in your account details including our school’s name to verify your eligibility. These are the details you will use to login to your account and access your webinar and resources
  7. Click ‘Place Order’

This offer is valid until 31 December 2022. If you’re unable to make the broadcast time, just register anyway and you will get access to the recording.