Friendships can be tricky to navigate at any age, but they are especially so during adolescence. For many kids, friendships during middle school are difficult, but high school friendships can also have a fair number of challenges.
Like most things with teens, friendships are usually ever-changing, complicated, and full of learning experiences. They are typically neither all good nor all bad. Here's some advice for parents about adolescent friendships from the experts.
How to Talk to Your Teen About Friendship by Denise Witmer on Verywell
"Use teachable moments to talk about what makes a good friend. Your daughter may get into an argument with her best friend over a boy or your son may have a spat with his lifelong friend over a football game.
These are opportunities that parents can take advantage of to explain the finer points of dealing with friendships. Make sure that you do not take sides in the fight."
What Friendship Means to Your Teen by Wayne Parker on The Spruce
"Any parent who has had more than one teenager recognizes that their social development comes in different stages and cycles. One of our daughters was kind of a homebody growing up; the other we could scarcely keep home long enough to wash her clothes. Both styles were good, and met their different social needs. Moms and dads will often have a tendency to try to push children into a stage for which they many not be prepared.
But unless your teen has a pathological fear of friendships, you should let them move at their own speed into closer friendships and relationships."
Peer Problems: When Someone is Mean to Your Teen on Your Teen for Parents
"Oftentimes, our teenagers will tell us about run-ins with peers because they just want to vent. If that’s the case, try to listen, express compassion, and let it pass.
You can say things like, 'That’s really mean and I understand why you’re upset ’ or, 'These things always hurt,'' says Adelstein. 'Compassion works better than specific ideas about how to fix the situation. Kids often prefer a good ear instead of a great suggestion.'”
Helping a child with toxic friendship problems from Kidspot.com.au
"Three things that are sure to backfire on you are:
- Banning friends. Don’t do it! Research clearly shows that children will rebel against parents use of power, and will actually spend more time with friends you have ‘banned’. Or they’ll find a new group of friends who make the originally banned friends seem tame!
- Talking at them, judging them or criticising them. Your teenager needs your support, guidance, and a model of what good relationships look like.
- Confronting offenders. If your child is hurt by a frenemy (or a bully), getting involved rarely makes things better. Instead, work with your child to help him or her make good decisions about the particular friend.
Our teens need positive friendships for healthy development. As parents, we can offer support and guidance as we encourage increasing independence in our adolescents, and help them navigate their changing, developing social world."
6 Ways to Help Your Teen Make and Keep Great Friends by Cheryl Somers on GoodTherapy.org
"Teach your teen how to engage in conversation. Small talk is a learned skill. It doesn’t come easily for everyone. It is particularly difficult for teens who are more introverted. Practice having light, casual conversations about easy topics such as music, activities outside of school, or homework. Help them learn how to keep it positive, and promote the value of listening more than they speak.
Help your teen understand that conflict is a natural part of relationships. Even the best of friends are going to have fights, but not every argument means the end of a friendship. Help them work on fighting fair and knowing when to take a break from an argument to cool off. Particularly when it comes to social media, where misunderstandings are common and conflict can quickly get out of control, teach your teen the value of saying, 'I think we’re both really upset. Let’s talk about this in person tomorrow.'"
And of course, friendships have many benefits, which are touched on in this article: When Teens Need Their Friends More Than Their Parents by Jenn Director Knudsen on Greater Good
"[P]eers can encourage teens, cajole them out of a bad mood, or simply take their mind off worries.
While educators, parents, and other adults may feel responsible for soothing teens’ stress, Uink also encourages them to help young teens cultivate their power to help each other. This might mean learning social skills like kindness, empathy, or compassion."
You May Also Like: Founding fodder: George Washington's words about friendship to live by
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