Teenagers have plenty to learn about life and many challenges to navigate along the way. Of course, there’s school and deciding what to do after graduation. And nearly every teen looks forward to an exclusive right of passage, or otherwise known as getting a driver’s license. However, during these years, your teen is learning how to make friends and mastering their social skills set.
For parents, it can seem as if there is a never-ending soap opera in your teen’s life. Friendships are made and lost very quickly.
Yet, what if you could teach your teen how to make and keep meaningful friendships?
Consider these thoughts.
Ask Which Qualities They Admire in a Friend
First, sit down with your teen and ask them which qualities they admire and look for in a friend.
Some possible ideas include:
Their answers may surprise you. Keep in mind that teens have already experienced a lot concerning friendships. Remember to listen to them thoroughly and intently. Don’t use this moment as a time to step in and preach what you think friendship should entail.
Talk About Different Kinds of Friendships
There are several different kinds of friendships and relationships. All of them may already be present in your child’s life. For example:
- Best friends: There are probably 1-2 other teens that your child would put into this category.
- Acquaintances: Not necessarily besties but people with whom your teen enjoys spending time.
- Classmates: These are other teens in your child’s classes. They may interact with them and work with them on projects. However, they might not be close friends.
- Coworkers: If your teen works, then they will have different kinds of relationships, such as those between other coworkers or with a supervisor.
- Teammates: Those who participate with your teen on sports teams.
- Romantic relationships: Someone with whom your teen is romantically involved.
There are many types of relationships that your teen could nurture. Some are pure friendships. Or, others could start as one kind of relationship, such as a teammate, and develop into closeness.
Ask your teen what they know about these types of relationships and how they navigate each one. How do they maintain positive interactions with each type?
Discuss Social Media Friends and FOMO
It’s important to distinguish between real-life friendships and social media friends. They might be connected online to people they have met in real life, or strictly online.
For example, online video games involve players from all over the world. Are these still considered to be friends? It may depend on what your teen thinks. Thus, it’s helpful to have that conversation with them.
Also, talk about FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” FOMO is when your teen is so afraid that they will miss out on a message, development, or friend request that they are constantly checking social media for updates.
Remind them that real friends won’t be concerned if they don’t reply immediately.
Educate Your Teen About Peer Pressure
Speaking of what a real friend would and wouldn’t do, educate your teen regarding peer pressure and its impact.
Peer pressure usually involves one teen coercing another teen to make a decision that goes against their values or beliefs.
For instance, a teen encouraging your child to skip school when they know they shouldn’t. Again, this is another topic that can lead to an exciting and productive conversation. You might also be surprised by what your teen has to say about peer pressure.
It’s essential that your teen understands the meaning of friendship, and also how to identify different types of relationships. You can help your teen by asking questions, listening, and understanding their perspective.
Additionally, remind them that you support them so that they can form truly long-lasting friendships.