Part III: Developing Satisfactory Peer Relationships

According to Research:

  1. Adolescents who do not develop positive peer relationship are at a greater risk for developing problems such as delinquency, substance abuse, and depression (Simmons, R., Conger, R., and Wu, C., 1992)
  2. Teens that have friends also have increased self-esteem, emotional support, and guidance
  3. 69% of girls in parent-adolescent surveys commented that they “very much” wanted help learning how to make friends (Stromme & Stromme, 1993)

The following tips can be used to help teens develop satisfying friendships.  If you are a parent, consider the following discussion points with your daughter to help her learn how to make more satisfying relationships.  If you are a teen, consider the following discussion points as a means to evaluate your current friendships.

Identify Desirable Qualities:  Think about past friendships or relationships that you have formed.  Does anyone stand out as an exceptional friend?  Or, what are the qualities that you value in a family member?

It is important to make friends with people who exude these same positive qualities because friends serve as an interpersonal bridge to the world and will contribute to your evolving identity.  Choose friends who bring out the best in you.

Choose Friends who Treat you with Respect:  How do you feel when you hang out with your friends?  Do your friends value your uniqueness and make you feel good about yourself?   Since adolescences is the time when the greatest degree of conformity and susceptibility to peer pressure occurs, peers become central to an adolescent’s support system, identity, and feeling of “belonging-ness.”

It is important to choose friends who do not make you feel that you need to change or conform to the group’s expectations.

Get Involved: Get involved by joining activities, clubs, and sports that interest you.  By joining these activities, you are putting yourself in a position in which you can meet new friends and these new friends already share a common interest with you.  A BONUS!!

Make an Effort to get to Know Someone: Building interpersonal relationships does not always come easily.  Sometimes it can be really hard to ‘put yourself out there’ and meet new people.  Just remember that you are not the only one who is shy or the only one who wants to meet new people.  Consider starting a conversation with someone that you don’t know by complimenting something about that person.  By giving someone a compliment you are instantaneously putting the other person into a positive frame of mind as well as establishing yourself as a caring and thoughtful person.

Works Cited:

Simmons, R., Conger, R., & Wu, C. (1992).  Peer group as amplifier/moderator of the stability of adolescent antisocial behavior. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Washington, DC.

Stromme, M.P., & Stromme, A.I. (1993).  Five cries of parents.  New York: HarperCollins.