If you ask any teen to rank the things that are important to them, we’re willing to bet that their friends rank in their top three. Friendships are critical for teenagers, and often figure largely in their daily life. Friendship can mold personalities, interests, and habits. As a parent of teens you may already be understanding the level of impact that friends can have on your son or daughter. Unfortunately for many parents, the concern exists with type of friends your teen chooses. Unsavory or bad influencing friends can change the course of your teen’s life, and dictate the type of relationship lessons they learn.
It’s important to take the opportunity to teach your teen the quality lessons and skills that come with friendship, rather than just focusing on the ever-present issue of good friends vs. bad friends. Helping your teen form and strengthen good friendships is an important way to prepare them for adulthood and healthy development.
3 Ways to Help Your Teen Strengthen Relationships Within Their Peer Groups
Be a Good Friend – by far the most important skill your teen needs to learn, no matter how obnoxious or unsavory you think their friends may be, is to be a good friend to others. Start by discussing good friendships with them. What do they think makes a good friend? What do they look for in friends? What do they wish their friends would do for them? Encourage your teen to be a good friend to those in their peer groups, because it will attract good friends to them as well.
The Importance of Close Relationships – although your teen may spend all their time and energy with their friends, they may not be as close as it seems. Many teen friendships revolve around common interests and acceptance – not necessarily meaningful relationship, commitment, and trust. Talk with your teen about the benefits and need for close relationships. They should have friends they can trust, friends who will stand by them in times of embarrassment, mistakes, loss, and change. Help them to identify which relationships are close and which are more casual.
In Good Company – Help your teen to identify the quality of their friends. Ask them how they feel with their friends, or how they’d like to feel with their friends. Talk about the ways friends and peers can influence moods, choices, and self-esteem. This may include teaching your teen ways to gracefully part ways with friends who do not bring them happiness, and how to create friendships with other teens they’d like to be around.
Teens without close, healthy friendships often find themselves in need of more serious help, or face a life path that is dangerous to them and others. If you fear your son is stuck with poor friends or a peer group that is dangerous of problematic – consider getting professional help to remove them from these situations before it takes a more serious turn. Friendships are everything to your teen – even more than they know.