Friendship plays a significant role in preteens and teen development. Having platonic teen relationships holds the scope of being intense and close to being casual. Some friendships are easy-going and then there are drama-filled ones.
Teens usually make friends with people having similar interests or circumstances, like playing in the marching band together or going to the same gym, or sitting as bench-mates in the same class.
What Are Teen Friendships Like?
Most teens in their childhood learn to “play well with others” whereas making friends independently is a different affair altogether. Parents usually tend to set up playdates when their children are small, but as they get older, you need to give them the much-needed freedom in choosing the friends they wish to hang out with.
Emotional changes at this age include a greater ability to talk about and understand one’s emotions verbally, which aligns with the increased nuance of social relationships and romantic relationships for teens,” states Dr. Reynolds.
How Can Parents Guide Teens Navigate Friendship
As a parent, you can help your teen choose the right friends, at the same time giving them the freedom to make the final decisions. People have their ways of connecting with other people, so your child needs to follow their instinct and pursue the friendships they feel are important.
This helps them learn to handle the relationships in their adult life.
There will be situations your teens enter, when in an argument with their friend.
That is the moment you may use to share your wisdom on handling conflicts.
These are opportunities that parents can take advantage of to explain the finer points of dealing with friendships, explains Dr. Reynolds. Listening and understanding your child’s feelings are the best tools at your disposal rather than picking a side in a fight.
Communication is the key to every relationship. As a parent, you should aim at having conversations with your teens that participate more in by talking about on they feel. A few points that will guide you through this process are explained below.
1. Embracing Opportunities
Everyone is entitled on having those platonic friendships, also choose how many and what types of friends one likes. Different people make friends for different reasons.
Some share the same interests, some share the same neighborhood, while some go to the same school, and share the same passions or dreams. Some happen to be friends by chance. The reason could be any and opportunities of making friends must not be wasted.
2. Building Honesty
Being honest in any relationship is the most important factor. Teaching your children to be honest in friendship by being candid with their friends, at the same time respecting each other’s privacy is the key.
3. Learn to Forgive
People hurt one another in friendship, but apologizing and forgiving are essential. Miscommunications can ruin friendships, so guide your children on how to fix things when going wrong.
At the same time help them choose which friendship is worth saving, such as bullying. It’s okay to walk away from toxicity.
4. Combating Negative Peer Pressure
While filling them with the positives, make sure you introduce the negative peer pressures to your children beforehand. This will help them in combating the negative and coping with the pressure when they do experience this.
“Modeling talking about difficult issues in an open, direct, and honest way with your teens will increase the likelihood that they will come to you when issues with these difficult situations occur in the future,” tells Dr. Reynolds.
5. Choose Your Friends Wisely
As a parent to a teen, it is your responsibility to help choose the right friends when you feel the person is not the right choice for your kid. Making friends from different backgrounds, gender and passions is perfectly fine.
If you judge the person to be beneficial as a friend and your kid enjoys the company, let that be a good friend you wished for them. Else guide them otherwise, let them know what’s wrong.
6. Working on Friendships
It takes a lot of skills in maintaining relationships. Help your kids learn these skills they need when they experience conflict in friendship.
Whether to work it through or part ways is a hard choice, so help them navigate through these choices when their friendship is draining or they are going through a rough patch.
Teach your teens the importance of communication, sharing your true feelings, being flexible, giving space in a relationship, and mutual care and respect. They must know how to stand by their friends in hardships, but also make sure it is a two-way street. Remind them to choose the positive and let go of the negative,
7. Closeness Matters
Platonic friendships take an effort in building them. Help them know what closeness is and what forms it.
Spending time together, understanding, and sharing feelings that matter is as important in building closeness, as doing things together such as homework, projects, and sports.
Social media helps in building these connections through phone calls, video chats, and texts. Remind them how an in-person chat feels.
“While online relationships can feel like a haven to socially struggling teens, try to ensure that your child is working to develop in-person relationships,” says Caroline Fulton, PsyD, a child, and adolescent psychologist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.
8. Pursue Healthy Friendships
Make friends that always make you feel good about yourself, and look out for friendships in which you end up questioning yourself, these are “toxic friendships. “Social relationships can be complex, and exclusion at this age is especially painful,” explains Dr.
Fulton. If you are going through this phase, walk away instantly.
“If your child is struggling with relationships, help them to engage in new activities, clubs, or groups to find peer connections,” says Dr. Fulton.
9. Growing Apart
You must have seen people with their childhood friends still bonded, if you don’t have one such friend, it is OKAY! People many a time outgrow each other and find different or new interests. Some friends live long distances whether it is in a separate city or country.
Such friendships take that extra effort just like relationships.
10. A Word Of Wisdom
Friendships always come naturally to kids. Maintaining those friendships needs learning while getting older.
Deep meaningful conversations with your teens will help you teach them better in life. Understanding their needs in relationships and guiding them through those crucial years will have its challenges but fruitful results.