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Healthy Friendships in Developing Adolescents

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Teen girls playing video games and smiling
Friends are a strong influence in an adolescent's life, making peers a valuable resource for promoting healthy behaviors.

Adapted from GirlsHealth.gov and TheCoolSpot.gov.

Friendships play a major role in the lives of adolescents.1 A circle of caring and supportive friends can help adolescents transition to adulthood.2 Parents, teachers and other adult role models can help young people learn how to make and keep good friends.3 Still, forming and maintaining friendships during adolescence can be challenging. Peer pressure – good and bad – often affects decisions young people make.3 Adults can set good examples, teach interpersonal skills, and help adolescents nurture positive friendships. One important lesson is that friends can say "no" to each other and remain friends.4


1 Vaquera, E., Kao, G. (2008). Do you like me as much as I like you? Friendship reciprocity and its effects on school outcomes among adolescents. Social Science Research, 37(1), 55-72.
2 Jellinek, M., Patel, B.,Froehle, M. (2002). Bright futures in practice: Mental health — Volume I, practice guide. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www.brightfutures.org/mentalhealth/pdf/06BFMHAdolescence.pdf.
3 Spelling, M. (2005). Helping your child through early adolescence. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Communications and Outreach. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/adolescence.pdf.
4 The Cool Spot. Peer Pressure. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www.thecoolspot.gov/pressures.asp.
Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on September 20, 2016