How to Help Tweens Find Positive Friendships
The tween years are tough to navigate on an individual basis, but when you add friendships into the mix, sometimes things can get downright impossible. Between kids sorting out their personalities and hormones running amuck, tween friendships can be volatile at times, even between otherwise well-mannered children. Other kids have a tough time connecting and developing friendships altogether. However, having people to connect and share with is such an important part of a mentally and emotionally healthy life, so helping tweens find positive friendships is an important role for parents.
Talk Frankly About Good Friendship Traits
Many tweens feel as if attention is equal to friendship and that can make for some very toxic friendships down the road. Talk to your child regularly about how they treat people and how they allow people to treat them. Steer them away from gossip. Help them understand how to resolve disagreements. Encourage them to be kind and inclusive of people who are different from them. By helping them to understand what makes a good friend, they’ll be more likely to steer away from those who don’t have their best interests at heart.
Be Aware of the Company Your Child Keeps
Do your best to get to know the children your child spends time with and, if possible, their parents. The more you know about your tween’s friends, you will be able to decide which friendships you should encourage, which you should help them move away from, and whether they need a little extra help making connections with their peers.
Enlist the Help of Teachers
Without being terribly meddlesome, get a little input from teachers as to who your child is spending time with at school and what those interactions look like. If your child is struggling to make connections, the teacher may actually have a little more insight on what is going on and how you can help, as they are with them all day long and constantly see them interact with other children their age.
Support Their Personal Interests
One of the best ways to expose your children to potential friends is to support the things that interest your child. Whether they’re athletes, dancers, musicians, artists, gamers, or focus on some other hobby, allowing them to connect with groups of like-minded tweens can be a great way to find wonderful people to develop friendships with.
Offer Opportunities to Spend Time with Friends
Just as adults need to make time to foster their relationships, so do children. Allow your child to set up “hang out” sessions with their friends, invite them along for outings, or find other ways to communicate and connect outside of school hours. As they spend more time with and get to know their friends better, the positive friendships that last a lifetime will begin to take root.
Let Them See Your Own Positive Friendships
Demonstrating positive friendship traits and letting your child see the wonderful bonds that you have made with your lifelong friends will help them to model the same behavior. Don’t allow your children to see you participating in a toxic friendship and if they do, show them how you are working to gently remove that person from your life and why you must.
Knowin g how to help tweens find positive friendships can be a challenge. But with a small amount of parent involvement, they will find the circle of friends that will stick with them throughout their lives.
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