Teens are in a period of fast biological growth. They are energetic young people that want to be independent from their parents. Parents put maximum effort into raising and understanding teens, especially nowadays.
Besides family connection, making friends is crucial for teens’ well-being and development. Through friendships, teens can recognize themselves, express mutual feelings, belong to some group, avoid loneliness, and develop loyal and trusty friendships that might last a lifetime.
Making friends can sometimes be difficult, especially for teens, so in this article, we’ll look at ways to help your teens make friends.
Understanding Teen Socialization
Parents must understand the need for teen socialization, which includes going out, sharing experiences, having fun, and belonging to a group of friends.
During this period, teens grow more independent from their parents, spend more time with friends, develop emotional relationships, and expand their extracurricular activities. Friendships help teens develop emotional skills, empathy, and healthy social relations.
Signs Your Teen May Be Struggling with Making Friends
Sometimes it can be difficult for teens to gain friendships with peers. One of the reasons teens struggle with making friends is social anxiety. In the following paragraphs, we’ll look at some signs your child has trouble making friends.
· Behavioral and Physical Signs
Socially anxious teens avoid communicating and talking to others. They want to be alone and are stressed when surrounded by people.
They have a fear of embarrassing themselves in front of others and often self-criticize themselves. Also, teens that are struggling with making friends avoid birthdays, social events, parties, and such.
Socially anxious teens might display physical signs such as sweating, shaky hands, lack of eye contact, and even stomach pain because of the fear of social interaction.
· What is the Difference Between Shyness and Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, is a mental disorder characterized by a constant fear of social interaction.
Studies show that about 5% of children and teens have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
On the other hand, shyness is a feeling of discomfort while communicating usually related to low self-esteem.
Building Your Teen’s Social Skills
Including kids in family and friends gatherings from an early age can have a positive impact on their social skills development.
Teens should practice how to have honest conversations by sharing experiences in similar hobbies, interests, and problems.
Moreover, they should learn how to be good listeners and show empathy, while also stating their opinion.
And most importantly, teens should understand that they can’t change their friends. Instead, they should accept them for who they are.
Helping Your Teen Overcome Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is caused by a series of negative influences, such as family conflicts, traumas, rejections, humiliation, abuse, bullying, teasing, and violence at school and out of it. But what happens if your teen develops social anxiety?
· Techniques for Managing Social Anxiety
When teens are battling social anxiety, parents must talk to them with love, compassion, and understanding.
Tell your teen they’re not alone, teach them breathing exercises, and talk about their fears. Provide help from supportive groups or professionals if needed.
Encouraging Your Teen to Join Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities are an effective way to improve teens’ communication skills and reduce fear. Teens can try sports, crafts, music, arts, volunteering, summer part-time jobs, and other hobbies.
Expert studies show that children that regularly engage in extracurricular activities have less of a chance to develop social anxiety.
Navigating Social Media and Technology
Social Media platforms can increase teens’ interest in communication and make them comfortable interacting with others. Making friends virtually can help teens to transfer that friendly attitude in real life.
But parents need to be aware and tell teens to avoid excessive screen time by setting boundaries for healthy social media usage.
Addressing Bullying and Other Challenges
Bullying can happen to everyone. Recent studies show that about 73% of schoolchildren have been bullied at least once in their lifetime. Signs that your teen is a victim of bullying are:
- Withdrawal and isolation;
- Fear and panic attacks;
Moreover, rejections from certain friend groups can make teens think about the reasons why they’re being rejected. Tell your teens the following things to help them go through a rejected friendship:
- Accept the rejection;
- Don’t blame anyone, and understand that you don’t have similar interests;
- Find friends with similar interests;
Helping Your Teen Through Transitions
Transitions mean new beginnings, and changes that affect teens’ life and social activities. Moving to another school or city is challenging because it takes time for your teen to make new friends.
New teachers can also help your teens in transition. But, old friendships can remain through social media and messaging apps.
The Role of Mental Health in Friendship
Friendships are healthy social interactions that make teens’ life happier. Social interaction improves teens’ brain ability and provides feelings of safety and belonging.
Knowing that your friend is always there for you makes you a strong and confident person. Therefore, parents need to motivate their teens to find a way to fight their fears, break the ice, and try to fit into a friend group.
Helping Your Teen Navigate Dating and Relationships
The most interesting part for parents is to advise their precious teens on dating and relationships. Teach your teens to have healthy relationships based on mutual respect, trust, honesty, understanding, and communication.
Have open communication with your teen about dating and relationships, and never interfere in your teen choices. Don’t expect your teen to choose what you as a parent have dreamed of (this is especially aimed at mothers). Let your teens live their life and be happy.
It’s your duty as parents to help your teens overcome some difficulties and make friends. Emphasize respect and mutual understanding as keys to successful and trusty friendships.
Friends are family that lasts forever. Last but not least, hug your teens. They are growing and soon will become men and women.
Can social anxiety be treated?
Social anxiety can be treated by constant conversation and parental support combined with therapist sessions and medicaments
How can I help my teen find an extracurricular activity they’re interested in?
You can help your teen find an extracurricular activity by evaluating your teen’s skills and interests. Or you can try suggesting some activities that are useful, challenging, or paid.
What are some signs that my teen is being bullied?
Bullying is a form of violence, and signs that your teen is being bullied are:
- Withdrawal and isolation;
- Insomnia and loss of appetite;
- Fears and panic attacks;
- Physical scratches and bruises;
Should I intervene in my teen’s friendships?
You should interfere in your teen’s friendships only if your teen is a member of a problematic friend group with bad influence.
What should I do if my teen is struggling with mental health issues?
Mental health issues can affect your teen’s future, so emotional support and consultation with a therapist are the first things you should do.