How Adults Can Support Healthy Friendships
Positive and supportive friendships are important to the health and wellbeing of adolescents. While friendships become increasingly influential during adolescence, young people's relationships with their parents and other caring adults remain extremely important.1 Adults can use this influence to encourage adolescents to develop healthy friendships, a key step in the process of learning to function independently. Specifically, as an adult, you can:
- Model healthy relationships with your partner, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and children. Setting an example by treating others with kindness and respect is the best way to teach your child about friendship.
- Coach adolescents on social skills if they're struggling to make friends. Talk to them to see where they're encountering difficulty in their relationships. Then, focus on building the skills they need, like striking up a conversation, listening and asking questions, managing emotions when upset, or setting appropriate boundaries.
- Talk about peer pressure. Ask adolescents about instances of peer pressure at school or with their friends and how they felt. Share your own experiences of peer pressure and how you've dealt with it. Role play scenarios in which adolescents can practice different strategies for saying no.
- Encourage participation in positive groups like school clubs, youth programs, and religious activities where adolescents can meet like-minded friends. Parents, get involved yourself — this way you can be there to support your adolescent and learn about their relationships.
- As a parent, get to know your child's friends. Make your home a welcoming environment and encourage your adolescent to have their friends over. Providing a safe, supervised space for unstructured time with friends can help youth share ideas and develop important social skills. If they want to go somewhere, offer to drive or supervise the activity. Talk to your child's friends and observe what they like to do and how they interact with one another. Getting to know the parents of your adolescent's friends is also a good idea — you can work together to ensure the friendships are positive for all involved.
For more tips, visit OAH's Talking With Teens About Peer Relationships: How You Make a Difference.
Content last reviewed on February 7, 2018