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Things to Consider When Picking the Right Friends
Making friends, being friends, and occasionally ending friendships are all an important developmental task for teens. When you are young, parents “choose” your friends by making play dates. When you become old enough to begin choosing your friends, despite your parents’ fears, your friendships are completely in your own hands.
Friends can challenge us, confuse us, and sometimes, we might wonder why we bother, but friendship is as important to our wellbeing as eating right and exercising. What’s more, friendships help us grow through each year of our lives.
Friendship is a close connection with another person that allows us to feel valued and cared for. The need for love and belonging has long been established as one of our basic needs as human beings. And it has been well documented that having strong, healthy relationships improves our self-esteem and overall well-being. As valuable as these connections are, however, they do not always come easily or naturally, particularly for teens.
Peer relationships are very important to teens.
- Friendships provide teens with opportunities to develop conflict resolution skills. Teens can learn how to end a fight and still remain friends.
- Friends provide fun and excitement for teens through companionship and recreation.
- Friends also give advice to one another. Teens talk through lots of issues and problemswith their friends.
- Loyalty is a valued trait in friendship. Teens are looking for loyal allies that can helpthem out at school or in their own neighborhood.
- Friendships also provide stability during times of stress or transition. It is helpful to teensto have a friend who is going through the same situations and can ease the anxieties of the times.What happens when you don’t have friends? Teens without friends tend to be more lonely and unhappy. They are more likely to have lower levels of academic achievement and lower self esteem. As they get older, they are more apt to drop out of school and to get involved in delinquent activities.Friendships change as youth move into their teen years. Teens tend to spend more time with their peers than family. They are also more mobile than when younger so more time is spent with peers without parental supervision. In the early teen years, small groups of friends or cliques are formed, which help to boost your confidence and give you a sense of identity. In today’s society, through crowds and cliques, teens show other people who they are.So what are you looking for in a friend? Let’s take a look at some great friendship qualtities that you should consider when “choosing” your friend or peer group.
Qualities of a True Friend:
- Honesty – A good friend tells the truth.
- Interesting – Shared interests are important to your friendships.
- Attentive – A good friend listens to you and notices things about you.
- Supportive – A good friend builds you up. They make you feel good about yourself.
- Trustworthy – A true friend won’t gossip about you, damage your reputation, or go behind your back to hurt you.
- Compassionate – A good friend cares about you.
- Loyal – A good friend sticks with you even when you make mistakes.
- Accepting – A true friend understands you and doesn’t try to change you.
- Forgiving – Friends sometimes hurt each other, but they can apologize and forgive
Having trouble finding the right friends?If you are having trouble making friends and are worried, there are a few things you can do. Think about it, you spend 6-8 hours a day at school, so that’s probably the best place to start looking for friends:
- Find someone who takes a similar route to school and offer to walk or ride together.
- Join a sport or club at school – think about your interests and strengths. You might wantto join a club, sports team or social group. Mixing with people who share similarinterests is a great way to start friendships and build confidence.
- Follow a classmate on Instagram, add them on Snapchat, Facbook, or other social mediasites.
- Invite a classmate over after school, suggest studying together or working on a project.
- Get online – making friends in person can be really tough. You can connect with peopleover common interests online in places like forums or games.
- Spend time with extended family and family friends. Have your parents or guardiansplan a get together where you can spend time with peers you already know and work onmaking those relationships stronger.
- Plan an activity with friends. This could be watching a movie at home, having asleepover, or planning something that meets everyone interests.
- Think about getting a job or volunteer at community activity. Working, particularly in aplace with other young people, can give you a chance to practice your social skills as well as building job skills for the future.On a different note, what makes a bad friend? A toxic friendship can be hard to spot and even harder to shake. Take some time to evaluate what it means to be a good friend and what it means to be a bad friend so you can choose the right friends for your life.Here are some examples of things you want to watch for in your friendships:
- Talks Badly About You to Others – Good friends have your back when they’re with you and when they’re not.
- Pressures You to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do – All teens experience peer pressure sometimes, but it shouldn’t be coming from your friends.
- Takes Advantage of You – If your friend only hangs out with you or talks to you when they want something from you, they are probably a bad friend.
- Spills Your Secrets – A bad friend doesn’t care about the consequences of telling your secrets to others.
- Constantly Judges You – Does your friend always make negative comments about your hairstyle, the clothes you wear, or the number of followers you have on Instagram? Do they say things like “Don’t your parents have the money to buy you an iPhone 11?” If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you’ve got yourself a bad friend.
- Puts You Down – Bad friends simply put you down without any care for your feelings.
- Lies Often – People who lie constantly are selfish and don’t really care about theconsequences of their actions.
- Drags Down Your Fun – A bad friend tries to pull everyone else down with them whetherit’s at school, a party, or just hanging out with you.
- Holds Long Grudges – A bad friend holds grudges for weeks, months, or even yearsbecause they are more worried about their own feelings than your friendship.
- Never There When You Need Them – If your friend is never available when you needthem.Final ThoughtsWe highly recommend these “qualities of good friendships” listed above. This is valuable information that you can refer to again and again. Remember it takes time to make a good friend, but it is well worth the effort in the long run. A good friendship will make you feel good about yourself, and that’s priceless.
Sources:Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, February 5). Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health.
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art- 20044860Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2018).
Making and keeping friends: A self-help guide. Retrieved from http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Making-and- Keeping-Friends-A-Self-Help-Guide/SMA-3716Gateway: Parenting Into the Teen Years, Issue 6, University of Illinois Extension.