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Making Friends — Help for Children, Kids, Tweens, Teenagers and Parents

​This information is included in our Guide to Parenting Teens. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

The thought of entering school hallways and classrooms fills some tweens with panic for the simple reason that they don't have any friends, or they are changing schools and have to start all over making new friends.

Does this sound like your tween? Have you noticed that he or she seems to lack the skills to make and keep friends? Has he or she changed schools recently but failed to find new friends?

Your tween doesn't have to be the most popular kid in school to be happy. Having just one or two good friends can make the difference between being miserable and being fine. The ability to make friends varies from person to person. For some people, it's easy; for others, it's very difficult. Making friends is a skill, just like learning to ride a bike or playing the piano. While it might require more effort and practice for some people, it can be learned.

Here are some tips for your tween to think about and practice:

  • Recognize what you have to offer. Think about your positive qualities. Write them down, if that will help, and look at your list several times a day. Remind yourself that other people feel the same way you do-you just can't see that they're insecure, too.
  • Develop a sense of humor. Learn to laugh at yourself and your shortcomings-it will relieve some of the stress in your life. If you ever feel like poking fun at someone, let it be you, never anyone else. Smile even if you feel insecure-you might discover the smiles taking over the inside as well as the outside!
  • Respect the rights of others. Learn how to listen to others without putting them down or trying to convince them that your opinion is the only valid one. It's fun to look at things from another angle.
  • Be kind. If you are kind to others, they probably will be kind to you. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, but you'll be happier if you start out by assuming the best about someone. Give a classmate a sincere compliment. Wave to an acquaintance. There are hundreds of little things you can do to show kindness.
  • Try not to complain. People get tired of listening to whining. Learn to accept what you can't change, and work hard to change what you can.
  • Avoid the trap of "rejecting the rejecters." If you're not chosen for the team or invited to a party, don't hate those who are. You only punish yourself when you carry hate and revenge around inside you. 

How can you help your tween? Encourage him or her to take action:

  • One of the best ways to meet new people is through shared interests, joining a computer, music, academic, drama, or other club.
  • Choose a time to "break the ice" with someone. Make it light and casual, such as, "Have you belonged to this club long?" or "Do you know when the next meeting is?" The more times your tween tries, the easier it will become. Offer encouragement for each attempt he or she makes, even if it doesn't seem to be working.
  • Don't limit activities to school. There are recreation programs, book clubs, scouts, church groups, and many other activities. Watch bulletin boards in your community, or check out the local newspaper.
  • Show your tween how to volunteer with a local organization; this will give him or her the double benefit of meeting people and doing something worthwhile. And as your child focuses on someone else's needs, his or her own troubles might just take care of themselves.

Related Parenting Content

The Art of Making Friends

Teenage Daughter Struggles to Fit in During First Year of High School

Building Healthy Relationships

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