How to Help Your Teen Make Friends
Friendship with peers offers your teenager more than companionship and entertainment. Kids Health notes that having friends enables your teen to exert independence by fostering supportive and trusting relationships outside of the family. Conversely, teens who have no friends may have a lower sense of self-esteem as a result of feeling left out. If your teenager has trouble making or maintaining friendships, use techniques to help him meet and spend time with peers to build lasting friendships.
Talk to your teenager to evaluate why she does not have close friends. PBS Parents suggests keeping the conversation productive by encouraging your teen to discuss what she has done to improve the situation. Ask questions to help her brainstorm her own ways to make friends and feel empowered to try them.
Help your child practice the skills necessary to meet peers and build friendships. Role play, for example, until your teen masters ways to approach other teens, introduce himself and keep a conversation going. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommends working on social skills, such as being assertive, friendly and kind, as well as practicing ways to stand up to peer pressure.
Enroll your teen in new activities that allow him to meet children other than the kids at school or in the neighborhood. Kids Health suggests language classes, art workshops and sports lessons like karate or horseback riding.
Make friends with the parents of your teen’s peers to help her build new friendships. The PBS Parents Going to School website notes that inviting the parents and teens on social outings at the same time can help shy teens interact with different children, even those your teen thinks she won’t like.
Invite your teen’s new friends to your home to help friendships grow. The University of Michigan emphasizes the importance of a parent's role in helping teens develop positive relationships with peers. Drive your teen and his friends to social events and extracurricular activities or let your child invite a friend on family outings.
Encourage your teen to seek out healthy relationships rather than making friends with negative or destructive children just so he’ll feel like he fits in with a group. Kids Health suggests that children find peers who share their values and interests, respect their diversity, hobbies and opinions. Remind your child that the right friends won’t force her to do anything wrong to remain a part of the group.
Seek help if your teen’s lack of friends has caused a change in his personality. The loneliness could lead to a more serious problem, such as depression, which creates greater difficulties in making friends according to Young Adult Health.
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