As a teacher you know how distracted or upset girls can be when they are not getting on with their friends. In the “Relationships” module of the Building Resilience programme I teach teen girls to recognise healthy and unhealthy behaviours in a relationship, and explore their strategies for friendships. This enables girls to feel empowered to make choices about the friends they are spending time with, and the relationships they enter into.
Our starting point is to reflect on the multitude of relationships in our lives, but how the relationship we have with ourselves – our inner voice and our attitude to ourselves – is central. And how this, crucially, underpins our relationships with other people.
We go on to learn about examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviour in relationships and this sparks a discussion about what to do when people act negatively. I encourage girls to ask themselves a crucial question: “Do I feel good about myself when I’m with this person?”
This is a difficult area for many girls; by understanding that other girls struggle with friendships and how to best get on with people they see they are not alone with this. And they work out their own strategies.
As I do throughout the Building Resilience programme, as we finish the session I ask girls to reflect during the next week on their friendships and what they have learnt.
The subsequent feedback from Poppy* was striking. She realised that actually she didn’t feel great about herself when she hung out with her current group of friends. So she’d invited some other girls to do something together and they’d had a great time. She was now enjoying getting to know these new girls. She had felt empowered to change her friendship group and had taken proactive steps to do just that. She was so happy to have made the change.
And changes were seen at home too, following the Building Resilience programme, the school asked for feedback from parents of girls attending the programme and one mother fed back:
“My daughter definitely has improved in handling her relationship issues with school friends and also realising that she can talk to me about friendship things and that I won’t take things out of her control.”
By equipping girls with understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviour in relationships, and realising that they deserve to be in nurturing, caring relationships they are learning skills which will benefit them throughout their lives. Whether that’s their choice of girl/boyfriend, friendships or in a work situation if they encounter a bullying boss or colleague. The insights they have gained, and the skills they have learned will mean they are in a stronger place to make better choices for themselves.
If you’re looking for a programme that builds resilience and personal skills, enabling teen girls to progress both personally and academically, find out about the availability of the Building resilience programme by contacting Caroline Walker on email@example.com
(* name changed)