Navigating friendships is hard at any age. It can be so challenging when you’re a tween living in a digital age with hormones on the rise and overflowing feelings. Making, keeping and being the best friend you can can be hard, especially when you have friends from different areas of your life. How can your tween intertwine all areas and still maintain balance, fun and long lasting friendships?
Once in middle school, friendships take on a whole new life of their own. This is a time of self discovery and finding out who you are. You also find out who you want to surround yourself with.
Up until now, many of their friends might have been handed to them. Meaning, they are friends with YOUR friend’s children. Playgroups and social gatherings that you plan and dictate when in elementary school can create an automatic friend group for them. But, what happens when they start to pick their own friends and the “new” friends aren’t friends with the current friends they already have? Someone, most likely your kiddo, is now in the middle. This can cause resentment from older friends, stress for you child and jealousy from the new friends.
In addition, a very active social life, coupled with school, sports, family obligations and more, can cause for a very weary and tired tween. If there are any tensions with any friendships, the added exhaustion can lead to a sad and stressed kiddo.
The best thing to encourage them to do, no matter where the friendship was formed, is to surround themselves with friends that encourage them, help them, that are kind to them and others and make them a better person. In addition, here are a few ways we can help them be the best friend they can be, while maintaining their independence and self-esteem:
1. Encourage them to spend one-on-one time with each friend when possible.
This will allow them to continue a friendship without having to feel guilty or torn between two different friends at the same time.
2. Encourage down time.
Sometime, too much of a good thing, is just that, too much! Friendships are important and sometimes it is hard to say “no” to friends coming over. However, a tired kiddo can become irritable and cranky and not be the best version of themselves or a friend to others. Sometimes, downtime is the best thing for great friendships.
3. Know it is ok if they aren’t included.
This is a big one. At times, situations arise and our children are left off invite lists, party invites or play dates. Many times this doesn’t mean they aren’t loved by their friends, but maybe outside factors were influenced. Help your child continue their positive feelings toward their friend and encourage their friendship.
4. Host gatherings for all
When time allows, host a party for all their friends. Summer swim parties, football bbq’s and holiday cookie parties are a great way to get everyone together to grow friendships and allow your kiddo to “host” all their friends in a fun way to continue relationship and allow for other’s to see them be friends with all.