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Making friends

Making friends and socialising with peers is an important part of adolescence.

Introduction

Making friends and socialising with peers is an important part of adolescence. It helps your child to build their social skills, their confidence and self-esteem. It also helps them to develop the foundations for healthy relationships in the future.   

Making friends starts with understanding the differences between people who are friends and people who are friendly, and having the opportunity to socialise with peers.

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Friends are people you like and who like you back. They are people you can talk to and share your feelings and experiences with. Friends are people who make you feel good when you’re with them.

Some people might have a lot of friends. Some people might have a few. That is okay. Not everybody you meet will be your friend.

Some important things about friends are:

  • friends listen to each other
  • friends share things with each other
  • friends trust each other
  • friends can sometimes disagree or have arguments. That is okay. Friends take time to try to work it out when they have disagreements or arguments
  • friends can sometimes do things that make us upset. This doesn’t mean they aren’t your friend, but you should talk to them about why you are upset.
  • friends shouldn’t upset you or make you feel bad all the time. They shouldn’t bully you or make you feel unsafe. Speak to somebody you trust if you need help.

 

It is equally important that your child understand which people aren’t their friends. This means understanding that just because somebody is friendly to you doesn’t mean they are your friend. This includes people like:

  • teachers
  • support workers
  • doctors or health workers
  • shop assistants

This doesn’t mean that your child can’t have a close relationship with their teacher or support worker. These relationships involve a lot of trust and can go on for many years. But to help them develop healthy friendships with their peers, it is important that they understand that people who are providing you a service are different to people who voluntarily choose to be your friend.

Conversation Starters

There are lots of different relationships in that movie. Who do you think are friends?
You’ve been in the swimming class with the same people for a while now. Would you call any of them your friends?
This is my friend Mickey. Do you want to introduce them to your friend?

Strategies for you to try

Discuss the meaning of friendship with your child

Ask them questions like:
– What are some things that friends do together?
– Do friends always have to like the same thing?
– Who is your friend? Why do you like them?
– Is your teacher/support worker your friend?
– If somebody is friendly to you are they your friend?
You might use a movie or tv show you watched recently as a prompt to start the conversation with your child.

Find opportunities for your child to socialise with their peers outside of school

This could be through sport, a hobby group or cultural group. Having a structured activity gives the children something to focus on and talk about. If it’s an activity your child likes, they can still enjoy themselves even if they don’t make new friends.

Role play conversations with your child

Before going out, practice with your child how they can introduce themselves to new people. Encourage them to remember a couple of key questions they can use to start conversations.
Questions could include:
– What did you do on the weekend?
– What is your favourite movie?
– What did you have for dinner last night?

trying to make friends

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Introduction to puberty for girls
Making friends

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