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Despite what movies and sitcoms have shown us, being the new girl at school doesn’t have to be filled with drama. The truth is that it’s an awesome opportunity for your daughter to expand her friend base, try new activities, and generally have a fresh start. Walk her through these five tips to help her rule the school.
1. Sign up for something
The cool thing about most middle and high schools is that there are clubs for just about anything she might be interested in—from stargazing and drama club to the Model U.N. Even elementary schools often have fun groups like Girl Scouts that she could sign up for. Plus, these lunchtime or after-school activities are one of the easiest ways to meet other girls who share her passions—when everyone involved cares about the same things, there’s no need for a creative ice breaker to start a conversation.
2. Let your freak flag fly
Remind your girl that being true to herself—quirks and all—will lead to genuine friendships based on similar senses of humor; common interests; and, most of all, trust. If she tries to be something she’s not or exaggerates stories about her past, the other kids will ultimately figure it out and may feel betrayed that she wasn’t authentically herself to begin with. If Luna Lovegood found her tribe at Hogwarts (and she did!), your girl will find hers, too.
3. Bring the fun
Waiting around to be invited to parties and other activities—especially when all the other students seem to have known each other for years—can make anyone feel lonely. So instead of sitting by and hoping someone will think to include her, encourage your daughter to invite other kids to join her for tacos after class or to come over for ice cream and a movie on the weekend. Yes, this might require a bit more work on your end when it comes to hosting neighborhood kids—and possibly initiating the playdates yourself if your daughter is too young—but it will pay off when you see your girl forming meaningful new friendships.
4. Ask questions
Fact: everyone likes to think they’re an expert on something—so suggest that your daughter ask the girl next to her in homeroom to give her the skinny on who’s who and what’s what on campus. Similarly, in the lunch line, she’ll likely have no trouble finding someone willing to help her suss out what’s actually good and which mystery meals she should avoid at all costs. If your daughter is very young, or simply shy, you might want to role-play these scenarios with her at home. Although none of her questions are guaranteed to end in friendship, they’ll send a signal to other students that she’s approachable and could lead her to get to know a variety of new people.
5. Don’t be a try hard
Making new friends is always exciting, but when you’re the new girl at school, it can actually feel like winning the lottery—or at least like grabbing hold of a life preserver in the middle of rocky waters. Still, remind your daughter that she’ll do best if she relaxes and lets friendship take its natural course. Suddenly dressing exactly like her bio lab mate or liking every one of a new friend’s Insta posts all the way back to 2013 isn’t a cute look and can actually scare people off! Not everyone she meets will turn out to be a good friend—and that’s OK. The important thing is for her to feel comfortable in her own skin and seek out friends who seem just as interested in learning about her as she is about them.
In general? Keep in mind that the start of the school year—especially when your daughter is the new girl in class—is a transition, not a one-and-done situation. So keep the conversation going and check in with her to see how she’s feeling as she makes the new school her own.