The tween years can be tough enough to navigate with your own child but add middle school friendships into the mix and sometimes parenting tweens can feel downright impossible.
With our kids sorting out who they as people as the onset of puberty sees hormones running amuck, tween friendships can be volatile at times even between kids who have been friends for a long time, and even with your usually good tempered or well-mannered child.
However, having friends to connect with is really important to mental and emotional health, so supporting our tweens to find and develop positive friendships is an important role for us, as parents.
5 Tips for Helping Your Tween Navigate Middle School Friendships
1. Talk Frankly (and Regularly) About the Qualities of a Good Friend
Many tweens feel as if attention is equal to friendship and that can make for some very toxic friendships down the road. Talk to your child regularly about how they treat others and how they allow people to treat them. Steer them away from gossip and excessive drama. Help them understand how to resolve disagreements. Encourage them to be kind and inclusive.
By helping your tween to understand what makes a good friend, you are equipping them with information that will help them steer away from those who don’t have their best interests at heart.
2. Be Aware of the Company Your Child Keeps
Do your best to get to know the children your child spends time with and, if possible, their parents. The more you know about your tween’s friends, the easier it will be to spot positive (and negative!) friendships to encourage. You will also be better placed to determine whether they need extra help making connections with their peers.
3. Enlist the Help of Teachers
Without being terribly meddlesome, get a little input from teachers as to who your child is spending time with at school and what their interactions look like. If your child is struggling to make connections, the teacher may actually have more insight on what is going on and how you can help, as they are with your child all day long and constantly see them interacting with other children their age.
4. Support Their Personal Interests
One of the best ways to expose your children to potential friends is to support the things that interest your child. Whether they’re athletes, dancers, musicians, artists, gamers, or focused on some other hobby, allowing them to connect with groups of like-minded tweens can be a great way to help them find wonderful people to develop friendships with.
5. Offer Opportunities to Spend Time with Friends
Just as adults need to make time to foster their relationships, so do children. Allow your child to set up “hang out” sessions with their friends, invite them along for outings, or find other ways to communicate and connect outside of school hours. As they spend more time with and get to know their friends better, the positive friendships that last a lifetime will begin to take root.
BONUS TIP: Let Them See Your Own Positive Friendships
Demonstrating positive friendship traits and letting your child see the wonderful bonds that you have made with your lifelong friends will help them to model the same behavior.
Helping tweens find positive friendships can be a challenge. But with a small amount of parent support and encouragement, they will find the circle of friends who will stick with them throughout their lives.
We’ve found the following titles really helpful with our tween;
For more useful parenting tween resources, click through to our Handy Guide to Surviving the Tween Years.