Having someone to spend time, laugh and create memories with is an important part of growing up and being a teen. Friendships are beneficial during these crucial years of development, but in many more ways than just having someone to go to a movie with. When we bring wonderful people into our lives, they help us grow and develop in ways we never could have previously imagined. For teenagers, this is one of many benefits of having strong friendships. Here are a few more.
Happy, Healthy Relationships
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When we’re in a bad mood, a smile or encouraging word from someone else can be just what we need to lift us out of it. This is true for teens too, and can work on a lasting scale according to a study published in Proceedings B. According to this research, teens who were living with depression were twice as likely to recover from their symptoms if they were surrounded by positive friends — a greater effect than antidepressants. This study also demonstrated that depression is not “infectious” amongst teen groups, whereas a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle is.
Self-Reliance and Social Skills
It’s true that teens are growing and developing in many ways during their adolescent years. While this includes mental, emotional and physical development, social development is also significant during this time. Even just having one healthy friendship has been shown to increase self-reliance, particularly for boys with troubled backgrounds. Furthermore, through healthy, positive relationships, teens learn important and lasting social skills such as how to communicate effectively, work through conflict and connect with those who are different from them.
Positive Peer Influences
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Teens are often strongly influenced by those around them. Whether it’s in how they act, what they do or who they emulate, teens often feel pressures from their peers. While this sometimes leads to negative or risky behaviors, having positive friendships in their lives can actually lead to making beneficial decisions. For example, by spending time with friends who share similar, healthy goals, your teen might be encouraged to develop some of these habits as well.
Many teens worry about fitting in. Having healthy friendships — even with just a few positive people — can make your teen feel like they belong. Feelings of confidence and acceptance are important in a teen’s emotional development, particularly as they continue to grow and learn more about themselves. The benefit of this is that they might be more likely to be kind towards others, take risks and be proud of their gifts and accomplishments.
At the end of the day, it’s hard as a parent to exercise control over who your teen develops friendships with. Encourage them to spend time with individuals who make them feel positive and who help them to be the best versions of themselves. As they develop positive friendships, they realize for themselves just how important these relationships can be.
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