Many teenagers find forming new friendships a struggle, but there are ways you can assist in helping them form connections.
Although you may only be able to do so much, it’s essential that you show your support from afar. Here are some ideas for doing just that:
1. Encourage them to join extra-curricular activities
If your teenager is having difficulty making friends, consider encouraging them to participate in extra-curricular activities. Joining a school band, theater group, art class or sports team could provide them with an avenue to meet people with shared interests – creating potential future friendships.
Joining a club or sports team can be beneficial for teens who are shy or anxious, providing them with something in common that makes them feel more at ease and connected to others. Furthermore, encourage your teen to talk with other kids at their club even if they feel uncertain about making new friendships.
Your teenager may make some long-lasting relationships through extracurricular activities they participate in, and you should encourage him or her to open themselves up to friendships between both male and female classmates.
Extracurricular activities offer your teen an invaluable opportunity to meet other students, develop leadership skills, and grow confidence. However, if they’re not interested in any of these things – that’s okay too; what’s important is finding out what makes them happy!
Your extracurricular activities can serve as an ideal platform to facilitate important discussions on topics like colorism, privilege and empathy with your teen. Through music lessons, sports team membership, book club participation or volunteering activities, your teen can gain important insights about themselves as they build meaningful friendships that last a lifetime.
2. Encourage them to join clubs
Your teenager needs friends in their life as they navigate the challenges and rewards of adolescence. A supportive circle can provide needed relief when managing school, romance, family issues, sports or anything else that comes with growing up. Unfortunately, making new friendships may prove challenging for teens who suffer from social anxiety or who are newcomers to an area.
Encourage your teen to participate in clubs that will facilitate meeting people more openly, such as theatre, book club or gaming groups. There are plenty of opportunities for them to make friends even if some individuals don’t share similar interests – hopefully finding several close and reliable ones in a new circle!
If your teenager loves museums, help them connect through tours or Q & A sessions with experts on the topic. Similarly, if they enjoy movies, encourage them to go see the latest releases and attend movie nights with other teens; this way they’ll have plenty of opportunities to discuss their favourite films and actors with peers who share similar tastes.
Remind your teen that not everyone will be reliable friends; that is okay. Teach them how to be more selective and to identify traits they desire in potential friends so they don’t waste their time with those who won’t stick by them.
Consider that your role as a parent is to help them build skills, not force them into situations they feel uncomfortable in. If they have attempted your suggestions but still struggled, consider finding a local social skills trainer who could work with them directly.
3. Encourage them to join sports teams
One effective way to help your teen form healthy friendships is encouraging them to join sports teams. Not only will this teach them teamwork and the value of working towards common goals, but it may also help break them out of their shell and get out from under their own skin.
Joining a sports team – be it soccer, softball, basketball or kickball – will teach your teen to work together towards something larger than themselves while creating opportunities to meet people in the community. Participation may even result in long-lasting friendships outside the realm of sport.
Though you may encourage your teen to participate in sports, participation should not be required of them in their social life. Some teens, particularly shy or introverted ones, may find the competitive nature of sports to be uncomfortable – this may leave them feeling disappointed and discouraged if not chosen as team members.
Remind your teen that this is only temporary; helping them through it requires talking and supporting them through it all. Reframing the situation may help ease feelings of disappointment by showing that this is only an interim phase; that there will be other opportunities in sports in their future, similar to competing for jobs with hundreds of qualified applicants – something sports tryouts may resemble.
Sleepaway camps can also help your teenager make lasting friendships, providing the ideal setting in which it’s easier to meet new people and form meaningful bonds. Their proximity, lack of technology distractions, and enjoyment from doing activities they find fulfilling make this setting perfect for forging meaningful relationships between peers.
4. Encourage them to join sleepaway camps
If your teen is having difficulty socializing at school or in their community, sleepaway camps could be just what’s needed to boost social interactions. Camps provide teens a unique opportunity to meet like-minded individuals with common interests in nature – something many towns’ recreational departments provide at reasonable costs during summer camps. You could also sign them up for structured art workshops or language courses which often lead to opening up conversations more freely when engaging in shared activities such as biking or football kicking (2).
If you had positive experiences at sleepaway camps as a kid or had similar life-changing moments, share those stories with your teenager to help prepare them for all of the activities at camp and build their confidence. Perhaps ask your teenager to write letters before leaving home for camp then send them on arrival – this may give your teen the chance to connect with peers from across the country or world!
Your teenager can learn the skill of creating genuine, long-term friendships at camp, which will stand them in good stead as they face life’s ups and downs. They must put aside their ego and compromise by listening to others, listening carefully, understanding opinions and always being kind to everyone around them. Furthermore, provide them with resilience tools such as deep breathing techniques, focal points or exercise that may help deal with negative emotions such as deep breathing or exercise to manage negative emotions effectively.
5. Encourage them to join online forums
Teens need to know how to navigate social media and other online communities effectively in today’s ever-evolving digital environment. Encourage them to join forums where they can interact with others and discuss important issues. While hovering or micromanaging might be tempting, encourage and support their attempts at connecting safely with peers online.
Discuss what your teenager desires from their friends, and help them identify those that would make ideal friends for them. Talk about the positive qualities you value in friendships such as your own, while emphasizing respect and trustworthiness within all relationships.
Teenagers who feel excluded from peer groups typically respond in various ways. Some become disruptive or take unnecessary risks; others withdraw into themselves and into depression or self-suffer. Still others develop unhealthy habits like substance abuse or eating disorders while some even begin bullying others themselves.
Helping your teen make new friends can be an uplifting and enjoyable experience, and listening carefully and creating a welcoming, supportive environment is crucial to ensure they find happiness. Helicoptering or trying to control their friendships could backfire and cause them resentment; make an effort instead to build meaningful connections and be an influence in their life.
Helicopter parenting can backfire if your teen is using social media platforms to communicate with inappropriate individuals, engaging in activities that put them at risk of bullying or sexual exploitation, or using any activity which puts them at risk of this kind. If this is an issue for you, BetterHelp’s network of counselors could provide invaluable support.