Girls' Power Plays: How to Help Your Daughter Cope

6 Tips for Talking to Your Daughter about Power Plays

You may feel that it's not worth making a federal case of not getting invited to a birthday party or letting your daughter blow off one friend for another. But these aren't trivial issues: They lay the groundwork for girls faking their feelings, pretending to be someone they're not, pleasing others at their own expense, or otherwise sacrificing self-esteem and authenticity. You can use these power plays to help your daughter figure out why it's worthwhile to be true to herself and to think through what friendship is really all about. Here's a general strategy for communicating with her about girls' power plays:

1. Empathize with her situation.

Even if you think she's behaving abominably, appreciate the awful pressure of the clique and her fear of losing her social status.

2. Ask her questions. Let her tell you her motivations and those of her friends.

3. Have her clarify her values. Does she think that her behavior, or that of her friends, has stepped out of bounds?

4. Articulate your values and ethics. Let her know how you would like to see them reflected in her behavior.

5. Brainstorm and role-play with her. Ask how she can respond so that she stands up for herself, communicates her feelings respectfully and asks for what she wants clearly.

6. Hold her accountable when she makes mistakes. If your daughter is the steamroller, your most important goal is not to punish her for her actions but to get her to take responsibility for them.

Queen Bees and WannabesExcerpted from Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. © 2002 by Rosalind Wiseman. Excerpted by permission of Crown, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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