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When Best Friends Break Up

It's painful to watch: Your child and her best pal were practically joined at the hip, but suddenly they're barely speaking. The average friendship at this age lasts about a year, says Michael thompson, Ph.D., coauthor of Best Friends, Worst Enemies. Often they just drift apart, but if your child is being snubbed, you can help:

LEND AN EAR
Give her your full attention and don't be judgmental; comments like "I always knew you couldn't trust that Ashley!" will only fuel the anger and hurt. It's enough to nod compassionately and say "That's rough."

GO EASY ON THE ADVICE
It's fine to give a suggestion or two if your child asks, but don't push her if she doesn't like your ideas; she'll only get more upset. If your child was in the wrong, gently point it out: "Don't you think you might have hurt Emily's feelings?"

DON'T BUTT IN
Resist the urge to call the friend or her parents to try to fix the relationship.

SHARE YOUR PAST
It will help your child to know that you experienced--and survived--some friendship upheavals of your own at her age.

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