The Secret Sauce in Helping Kids Go Through Friend Drama


helping kids go through friend drama - mom and daughter on couch talkingWhen I was little, I felt everyone was cooler and had an easier life. I thought mean kids were mean for sure, but higher up on the food chain somehow. Then, something interesting happened. I survived school, went to college and chose to stay in school by becoming a teacher. I never left the system and yet, my vantage point changed. 

While teaching 3rd grade, I could see changes happening between peers and glimpses into an emerging hierarchy. I had a window into their strengths, their struggles, their families, and how a typical night at home might go. 

I loved these kids and could see some possible reasons why they were choosing to boss around another kid, tease someone, or tear up at a joke. I had compassion for them for whatever their action was because I could see it as a strategy (the best available to them at the time) for what they had experienced and needed.

I wish that when I was younger, I knew that the other kids weren’t better than me. I wish I knew they were hurting too.

Heck, we all are.

Having that understanding helped me to hone my skills to better help kids struggling with friends.

Here are my top tips to for you in helping kids go through friend drama:

1. Listen.

If they are willing to talk, just let them talk and vent. Try to remember how hard it was when you were this age. If you model empathy, they will feel heard and understood (and have an easier time developing empathy themselves). Remember, validating someone is a superpower.

2. Remember that you can’t fix it.

And we really shouldn’t. They’ve got to go through hard stuff and learn the lessons they need to so that they can improve and be better. This will give them confidence when they leave our nest that they can handle things on their own. It might help to remind yourself that things have a way of naturally working out…because our pain is real when our kids are hurting. We desperately want to solve the problem for them.

3. Don’t Reach for the Cookies.

This is your chance to suggest something that will make them feel better with healthy coping skills – through exercise, getting outside, venting, journaling, etc. The goal should be to somehow feel the feelings and work through them, rather than distracting themselves and running from the pain. Helpings kids go through friend drama means empowering them to deal head on.

4. Plant Seeds.

Kids hate it when we give advice. They want some control in their lives — a sense of power. But sometimes, we can plant seeds by asking questions that prompt our kids to think about what must be going on with the other kids to have this come up.
What could make them want to act in this way?
How might they be doing and feeling for this to have happened? 
This is the secret to helping them create peace, and have a wider breadth of understanding. It will also stop their self-esteem from taking a dive because they won’t take it so personally.

5. Brainstorm.

Together, make a list of possible solutions together for moving forward, but leave the decision in their hands. Of course, there may be times that we need to get involved. But if we can help them to see options, have healthy ways to deal, have compassion, and feel empowered to move forward – those are the ingredients for the best possible outcome.

In the first week of 6th grade, another girl was purposely ditching my daughter when ‘cooler kids’ were nearby. This hurt her deeply, which in turn, cut me deep. She felt ‘less than,’ not good enough and awkward. This caused my baggage to bubble up!  Yet luckily, I had the inside scoop. I knew this kid had a kind heart and just had her own major anxiety about being accepted by all the new kids in middle school. I probed with gentle questions trying to get her to try to see things from her friend’s shoes. I wondered aloud about what might be going on for her that would bring this on.

She eventually moved from hurt to compassion: What bummer it was that she couldn’t act like herself around the kids she wanted to befriend!

It made her feel more like she was enough so she could have kindness toward her and strength to not accept treatment she didn’t deserve. She was able to move on with a sense of peace and kindness that I think would not have been possible if she hadn’t tried seeing things from the other side.

To be able to help kids with friend conflicts is an incredible skill and gift.

We can help them see they are enough. All the while, through the drama and having empathy for others.

Any advice on helping kids go through friend drama? What’s worked for your kids?

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Hi, I’m Kelly! I fell in love with the seacoast while at UNH and thank my lucky stars to have been able to call this area my home since then! I became a local elementary school teacher and happily taught as a classroom teacher and reading specialist for 20 years. During that time, I had my daughter, was a Girl Scout leader for many years, and went through 2 divorces. Lots of good memories…and lots of hard lessons learned. My most recent life lesson: one must take care of themselves while parenting & working! Yep, my body gave out in and was demanding a healthier lifestyle. Finally, I listened, made major changes and went back to school for yoga, health coaching, life coaching, mindfulness and reiki. My mission now is to help others, especially moms and teachers that have put everyone else first and are ready to be healthier and happier themselves. I am a certified coach that works 1:1 to create lasting lifestyle, mindset & nutrition changes. I live with my husband & daughter in Portsmouth. Travel, adventure, nature, redecorating and family movie nights are the things that light me up and bring me energy. My goal is to live as large as possible while trying to make a positive dent in this world. Connect with me on Instagram @wellnesslemonade, facebook: or