How Can My Teenager Make Friends?

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The Raising Children Network explains that parents and mentors can help teenagers cultivate friendships through a number of avenues, which include fostering strong relationships with parents and other family members to give teenagers a sense of belonging, community and self. Parents may also consider alternative and other diverse outlets for socialization, including employment, clubs and even Internet media.

One positive possibility lies in encouraging teenagers to obtain a part-time job, especially one that offers them the opportunity to meet and work with kids their own age. If the teenager is uncomfortable making friends at school alone, employment offers a different context in which to forge relationships.

According to the Raising Children Network, parents should determine what their teenagers' strongest interests are and then encourage them to pursue secondary social environments, such as after-school clubs or sports teams, that suit those interests. Additionally, parents should make it clear to their teenagers that they are welcome to bring friends home and are similarly free to meet their friends elsewhere as long as conditions are safe and appropriate.

In a related sense, parents should understand that the teenage years are frequently a time when children establish some measure of distance from their parents or spend less time with them. This should be interpreted as a healthy thing and not something that should worry parents or prompt them to curtail their teenager's activities as long as they are safe and appropriate. If teenagers find it particularly hard to make friends, parents can always start by scheduling increased time with extended family, which is something that can serve as a lead-in to an expanded social network.

Kid's Helpline suggests that some of the oldest and simplest techniques are still useful Simple things such as encouraging teens to smile and feel confident, asking questions and starting conversations, and working on listening and making themselves available to people can go a long way toward developing teenagers' social skills and helping them become more approachable.