Girls’ Social World is Subject of Talk

For adolescent girls, the elementary and middle school social scene can be a strange, frightening and confusing place. For their parents, it can be even more so. To help both parties navigate the murky waters ahead, an upcoming Partnership for Awareness event will tackle the issue of girls’ social and emotional development through these formative years.
On Friday, Nov. 13, at 9 a.m., PFA will present “Cliques, Conflicts and Connections: Empowering Your Daughter to Navigate her Social and Emotional World” in the Huntington Middle School cafeteria. Melissa Johnson, founder and CEO of the Pasadena-based Institute for Girls’ Development, will speak on the challenges faced by young girls in their friendships and social relationships and offer skill-building advice to parents on how to effectively communicate, empathize and support their daughters in confronting them.
“In sharing our experiences with other parents, it became clear to us that girls and boys learn, express themselves and socialize differently,” said Su Viswanathan, who co-chairs Partnership for Awareness programs with Ning Wu.
“The goal of this event is to bring awareness to various developmental factors so parents can better understand their daughters’ behaviors,” added Wu. “Such knowledge can enable parents to help their daughters navigate through such an exciting and complex period of self-discovery in a healthy and positive way.”
In the later years of elementary school and into middle school, a girl’s social world starts to become more complicated. Social aggression, including rumors, gossip, exclusion and cruelty, become more prevalent in a girl’s interactive behavior, which can lead to some girls feeling left out or as if they don’t belong. Friendships are a struggle of emotional highs and lows, and parents may notice their daughters becoming withdrawn and less communicative.
In her seminar, Johnson will explain how girls can grow from these experiences to develop “relational resilience” and how parents can use “bridge builders” to keep the channels of communication with their daughters open.
“Because social and emotional development are so critical for happiness and effectiveness in life, we as parents want to respond to our children’s challenges and joys and suffering and opportunities in a way that will support their growth,” Johnson said. “This an opportunity to give girls the tools that they will use in college, in the workplace, in their long-term relationships — such important skills to be developing over a lifetime.”
Admission to this event is free for PFA sponsors. For others, a $10 donation per person is suggested. For more information, visit

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