Making friends can be a challenging endeavor – for both adults and teens. Changing friend groups, or being more assertive in finding healthy friends is part of a healthy adolescence. Teens can switch friend groups at the drop of a hat or maintain long-term friendships throughout their childhood and into adolescence.
Parents can provide support and encouragement to their teen, when it is their teen’s desire to make and find new friends.
In my experience, parents are most effective when they play a role of support in this area instead of leading the charge. Below are a few things to keep in mind if your teen is looking to find new friends this school year.
- Some teens benefit from talking through qualities they admire/desire in a friend and what qualities, based on experience, wouldn’t be helpful to have in a friend. Teens are highly perceptive and are usually able to vocalize what attributes make a supportive friend or what characteristics aren’t good to have in friends.
- Assist your teen in discussing practical ways to reach out to new people at school or on a sports team. Being able to have one or two conversation starters on hand help teens feel more comfortable as they introduce themselves to new people. Sometimes even trying out a role-play of introducing yourself can be helpful to teens!
- Let your teen be the guide in finding new friends. Teens love feeling independent and making decisions like finding a new peer group or new friends can help build confidence and social competence. Follow your teen’s lead and be supportive and encouraging instead of leading.
Sarah (Brookings) Connor, LPC
sconnor @ GROWcounseling.com
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