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February 27, 2008 / missknowitall

Trying to Unify Teenage Girls

Dear Little Miss,
I have been recently assigned to work with a group of girls from ages 16-18.  I’m just a rookie in this area, and not much older than they are.  The adult leader of the group asked that I try to build unity among them.  We have girls that are so different!  In particular, I’m concerned about the ones that are mean or negative to the other girls and then exclude themselves when the other girls don’t like it.  I am trying to get to know each of the girls on a personal level, but some just shut me out.  Many of the girls are ready to move on, but I got specific instructions asking me to try to get them to hang on with the rest of the girls.  What can I do to get everyone together (to show up to events) and try to build unity?
Directionless Leader
Dear Leader,
Oh-boy, you’ve got a tough job ahead of you.  Teenage girls are usually one big boiling mass of misunderstanding.  Not only do they feel totally misunderstood by everyone, they misunderstand the world around them, what is going inside their bodies and their minds, and they tend to misunderstand every kind action by a well meaning adult.  Don’t loose hope, though.  They may act like they are ignoring you but they are hearing everything you say and will remember it for years to come.  The important part is to love them without trying to change them.  Try highlighting things that each girl does, especially in any area that she enjoys.  If one girl is into dying her hair crazy colors let her teach a mini class on hair products and the dos and don’ts she has learned.  If another girl is into art, let her teach a small art class.  Or if one just likes to watch movies have her teach about that.  Showing that you are honestly interested in them for being who they are will make them feel more at ease with you.  AND, by setting such an example they may possibly be more willing to value the other girls in their group for their differences as well.  Most important is to not take their actions personally when they offend you.  Keep it real and have a very forgiving sense of humor.  Teenage girls will push any button they can find to try to make you fit into whatever mold they’ve already put you in.  Be one of the very few, if only, adults they will meet that can hold onto their own standards and ideals while appreciating and valuing those of others.  And to get them to come to events call and offer a ride if possible and make sure their parents know about the event.
Good luck!  You are going to need it!
Miss Knowitall

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