Navigating teenage friendships

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Teenage friendships are different from those in their younger years. They become more intricate, with closer bonds built on trust. Transitioning to secondary school brings challenges in maintaining and changing friendships. It takes time for teenagers to find peers they truly connect with and form healthy, close relationships with going forward. As teenagers explore their identity, emotions, and abilities, they often start mingling with different people and groups than before.

Sometimes, as teenagers mature, they realise that their current friendships or groups may not be healthy or suitable for them anymore. They begin to make decisions about the kind of people they want to associate with in the future, seeking out like-minded individuals.

Healthy and unhealthy friendship groups 

Being part of a healthy friendship group has numerous benefits. Adolescents feel comfortable and at ease in such groups, as opposed to feeling anxious, unhappy, worried, or pressured to do things they don’t want to do. This also applies to online groups. Healthy friendships provide a safe space for youth to explore their identity, learn social norms, and practice independence. They offer social support in navigating the challenges of adolescence.

Top Tips to remember when talking about friendships with your teenager

  • Have casual conversations with your teen about friendships. Talk about topics such as – What makes a good friend, what is the difference between being popular and being a good friend, how to look after your friendships. 
  • It can take time to make a good friend. Friendships are built over time as you spend time together and communicate. 
  • Honesty, care and trust are important in a friendship. 
  • If you want to have a good friend, you need to be a good friend. Think about how you would like to be treated as a friend. 
  • You need to make an effort to have and keep good friendships. If you neglect them, they may fade. 
  • Disagreements are normal. Friends sometimes have disagreements with each other – but you can always apologise and learn to forgive each other. 
  • It is okay for friends to outgrow each other. People change as they find new interests and people to hang out with as they mature. 

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