Ask Annie: Teaching Options & Exit Strategies For Girls

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October 29, 2014

Dear Annie,

My daughter has a lot going for her except confidence. We’ve always emphasized caring and kindness and I’m proud to say that she embodies these traits. The problem is that she is easily disappointed when others don’t embody these ideals and in 5th grade there are many girls who don’t. Today eight girls at the lunch table were comparing and contrasting two birthday parties that occurred this weekend. Every girl was invited to one or the other or both except my daughter. She was disappointed and sad when she got home. 

I told her she should have just excused herself and gone to another table where she felt more comfortable. Ideally I want her to say to herself, “These people are making me feel bad and I should find people that make me feel good.”  However don’t know if that is correct or how to get her to do that!


Dear Confused,


Props to you for instilling the values of caring and kindness as you raise your daughter. World needs more people who make choices that show sensitivity and respect for other people’s feelings. And of course we all know that not every parent will prioritize these values. As a result, not all children or adults treat one another with the same sensitivity as your daughter does.

If we give these chatty fifth-grade girls the benefit of the doubt, we can say that they just weren’t thinking about your daughter’s feelings during this lunch conversation. I support with your goal to have your daughter recognize when she feels comfortable and when she doesn’t. When she is in the company of people who make her feel uncomfortable, for whatever reason, she needs to know that she has options. Option number one is to speak out respectfully and responsibly to let people know that she’s not comfortable with what’s going on. Another option is for her to recognize that she can remove herself from any situation. Knowing she can exercise either option at any time will empower her.

But let’s face it, this is easier said than done. If you have ever been in a social situation with adults and felt uncomfortable you may have experienced your own resistance to following through with either of these options. I know I certainly have! So ultimately all of this empowering advice takes practice and social courage to implement.

Continue talking with the daughter about these kinds of situations and let her know what her options are. Encourage her to brainstorm with you other options in addition to these two… There are more! You might even do some role-play with her and give her a chance to practice saying what she needs to say at times when she might want an exit from a conversation or a social situation. Practicing these things in advance can give your daughter more of the confidence she needs.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Do you have a question for Annie? Leave it in the comments below or contact Annie anonymously via her website (just make sure to let her know it came from SocialMoms so we can post the answers here!)


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