Talking to Tweens about Friendship? An important part of pre-teen and teen development is the process of finding new friends and relationships which are friendly. As a parent you should talk to your teen about how to become a good friend and the nuances of a healthy relationship. They should be able understand that friendship is a close connection with another person that helps one to feel valued and cared for. We do understand that an outgoing teenager can be friends with everyone and approaches every social situation with reasonable ease. But there are also awkward and insecure teenagers who have to struggle a lot to connect with people and becomes a bit withdrawn when a friendship crashes.
Talking to Tweens about Friendship
It does seem that children find it easy to make friends when they are young. This is because when kids are little the majority of the friendships are managed by adults. They do learn to play with peers in their childhood but developing independent and responsible friendships when they grow up is a different cup of tea. When they were little the friendships were cultivated by adults but now the tweens are expected to use their knowledge and thinking to decide whether they want to be a person’s friend or not. The parents must learn to give the tweens reasonable freedom in choosing their friends for hanging out. To tell you the truth, friendship is an entirely different matter in the tween years.
How the parents can be talking to tweens about friendship
The parents can help the tweens in selecting their friends but the most important decision should remain with your son/daughter. A teen who manages to have healthy friendships now will end up carrying forward this practice right into their senior life. You should speak to your teen and talk about what constitutes a good and dependable friend. You daughter may get involved in an unnecessary argument with her best buddy or your son may have confrontation with his school friend over a simple football game. There are the real opportunities when the parents should pass on the finer details of friendships. However, you must remember that you just cannot support anyone in a fight. On the contrary, you must listen very carefully and try to understand what exactly your tween is feeling and thinking. Here are some valuable tip on how you can talk to your tweens about friendship.
1) Ask your tween to reflect
You should ask your tween to think about the qualities that he/she may have that will propel others to be friends with him/her. The teen should not just look around for people with common interests; he/she must understand what kind of person they are and the kind of friends that will be good for them.
2) The tween should understand that every ‘friend’ will not be BFF
Some teens struggle to make friends and they seem to latch on to the first person who displays any kind of attention. This may lead to sharing of too much personal information rapidly and the teen can become jealous or feel insecure when his new best friend acquires other friends. You must speak to your tween and help him understand that there is a difference between the person who sits right next to him in the class and do some casual talking and a friend who appreciates his friendship.
3) The teen must understand that conflict is common
All best friends are going to fight at one point of time but every argument does not signal the termination of a friendship. The teen must understand how to fight fair and when to take the much needed break from an agreement so that it dies a natural death. If your teen is arguing on the social media then he/she should have the presence of mind to convince the other person to settle the argument in person only as misunderstandings are very common in social media and arguments spiral beyond control unnecessarily.
4) Teach your tween to engage in meaningful conversations
Small talk is a very learned skill. It may not and does not come easily for everyone. It is more difficult for tweens who are introvert. So you must encourage your tween to practice having light and casual conversations on relatively easy topics such as homework or activities outside of school. The teens should learn how to promote the value of listening more.
5) Ask your teen to strengthen the other relationships
One must remember that the need for belonging and connection is not restricted to peers and friendships. The tween must feel a deep connection with parents and other important adults in his/her life. When a teen have healthy and dependable relationships in their lives on which they can depend unconditionally, it becomes really easy for them to endure the bumpy ride of friendships.