Relationships, especially friendships, become increasingly important for young people as they develop from kids into young adults. It is developmentally appropriate for young people to seek more independence from their family and want to spend more time with their peers. They also might find that their friendships change, with some becoming more intense and others potentially fizzling out. These changes can be stressful and confusing for young people. It’s important that they understand that these changes are normal and it’s healthy to talk about your feelings with your friends and trusted adults.
Peer pressure can play a major role in friendships and may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship that is out of balance. In a balanced relationship, each person shows respect for the other and neither tries to push the other into something they aren’t comfortable doing. It is important that young people know they have the right to stand up for what they believe is right and to feel comfortable expressing themselves with their friends. Standing up for oneself may cause tension in a friendship, but that is normal and not a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
As your child becomes more independent and friendships become a more important part of his or her life, talk to your child about friendships and let your child know you’re there if issues arise in their relationships. Here are some ways you can start these conversations: