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Teen Counselor: How To Help Your Teen Make Friends

Every teen counselor knows that the transition to adolescence is difficult for many kids.  Of all of the things that children experience when they enter their teenage years, the growing desire and need for independence can be the hardest for them to handle.  While it is normal for children to want to strike out on their own, that independence also carries with it the need for them to learn how to do a multitude of things that their parents once did for them.

Parents Cultivate And Manage Their Children’s Friendships

One of the more important things that parents do for their children when they’re young is to help them make friends with other children.  Friendships formed in childhood are largely the creation of parents who cultivate and manage them for their children through play dates and organized group activities.  Parents not only plan birthday parties and other get-togethers to which they invite the children they want their children to befriend, they also manage any conflicts that arise between children to ensure that the relationships don’t change.

The Process Of Making Friends Changes In Adolescence

When children enter their middle school years and begin to make decisions and attempt to form relationships on their own, making friends becomes more difficult.  While some teens handle the transition to forming their own friendships effortlessly, others struggle to know how to approach their peers.  As a teen counselor, I have worked with children whose confidence has been adversely affected by repeated failures to make friends.  The good news is that making friends, like so many other life skills, can be learned.  As a parent, you should know that there are a number of ways you can help your child learn how to make friends as he or she approaches adolescence.

Teens Can Learn How To Make Friends

As a parent, your primary job is to maintain an open, healthy relationship with your teen.  Positive relationships with you and other adults around them can help teenagers feel confident that no matter what, they can count on you for unconditional support and love.  After that, you can help your teen learn how to make friends with their peers by:

  – Reminding them that not everyone they meet is BFF material and that they shouldn’t struggle too hard to try to befriend others with whom they don’t have an organic connection in the form of similar interests or experiences.

  – Teaching them how to engage in conversation.  The kind of small talk people, even teens, make when they’re getting to know each other isn’t an easy thing to be able to do; so teaching your child by making casual conversation with them about a variety of topics will give them more confidence when they have to do it with strangers.

  – Being careful with your judgments about their friends.  Once your teen develops friendships, be positive and try not to give your opinion of their friends too readily unless you feel there is something about the relationship or the person that isn’t healthy or good for your child.  
Friendships during the teen years are important and can be fulfilling for your child.  If your child is struggling to make friends, you can help.  If you see your child’s self-confidence waning because of friendship issues and you feel he or she needs professional help, make an appointment with a teen counselor.  Call Insight Child & Family Counseling at (972) 426-9500 or visit www.ldscounselordfw.com.

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