Tag Teens

Promoting Teen Friendships

2 happy teens, african-americanAs we start a new year, my attention is drawn to The New Yorker article by Maria Konnikova titled, “The Six Most Interesting Psychology Papers of 2015.” I’d like to blog on one of these six articles, from the British Journal of Psychology, titled “Best Friends and Better Coping: Facilitating Psychological Resilience Through Boys’ and Girls’ Closest Friendships.”

In this study the participants were 409 “socio-economically vulnerable” British adolescents. The researchers found that having a close friend served an important resilience-promoting function. They concluded: “Findings revealed a significant positive association between perceived friendship quality and resilience…We suggest that individual close friendships are an important potential protective mechanism accessible to most adolescents.”

This is not a surprising result for those who are familiar with the resilience literature (e.g., social competence is a well established protective factor). Here are a few tips parents can use to promote friendships among their teens:

  • Create a space in your home that is teen friendly. Key ingredients aretwo women fun things to do in a space that feels separate from parents and siblings.
  • Encourage and support extra-curricular involvements that tap into your teen’s strengths. This can be a wonderful way to develop and support friendships.
  • In instances when your teen may be struggling with peers, partner with teachers in identifying potential friend-candidates to invite over.
  • Also if your teen is struggling, see if there are any groups being organized by school counselors that your teen might be eligible to join (e.g., social skills training, divorce coping, grief); these groups can be useful for forming bonds.
  • Whenever practical and consistent with your morals, support your teen’s efforts to acquire conforming clothes, music and so forth. These are common methodologies teen use to try to feel comfortable around, and to fit in with, peers.
  • Whenever practical and consistent with your morals, allow your teen to have access to pro-social networking sites and technology (e.g., texting). Not having access to such can serve to isolate a teen.
  • happy latino coupleGiven how critically important this domain is, please consider obtaining an evaluation from a good child mental health professional if your teen is struggling with peer relationships. For a referral click here.

This complex topic goes hand-in-hand with another complex topic: parental monitoring. Please use the search bar above, or my parenting book, to find content along those lines.

 

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When Teens Lie

african woman's half faceLying is can be a symptom of a psychological disorder such as Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. However, lying can also occur secondary to typical developmental pressures that teens face. This entry is designed to address the latter scenario.

Teens can lie for many different reasons: to avoid consequences, to be spared parent admonishments, to get out of responsibilities and so forth. However, a top reason teens lie is because they imagine that the truth will get them nowhere with their parents. It is as if a teen is an attorney who, believing that the judge always decides against him, stops making truthful petitions to the court. This may or may not be a fair assessment. But, if a teen thinks that her parents will always decide against her if she lobbies truthfully, it is more likely that she will lie. There are at least six things we as parents can do to incentivize truth telling:

#1. Ask yourself if the thing your teen wants to do stands to be physically harmful, psychologically harmful or unduly taxing of your resources. If the answer to all three is “no,” maybe it’s okay to let your teen do that thing, even if it drives you crazy.

#2. Be open to your teen having good arguments that change your mind. Often our teens have information or perspectives that we hadn’t considered. If we allow ourselves to objectively consider this information, and change our minds when that’s indicated, we increase the odds that our teens will be truthful with us.

caution, teen ahead#3. Consider using the problems solving methodology. Click here or see Chapter Six of my parenting book for a more detailed description.

#4. Spend one hour a week doing special time with your teen. Readers of this blog will recognize this theme. For an instruction on how to do special time see this link or Chapter One of my parenting book.

#5. Allow your teen three chances to change your mind after you say “no” to something he wants to do. It might go like this: 1. your teen makes his initial request; 2. you respond, offering a reason if it’s a “no;” 3. your teen makes a counterargument; 4. you listen and respond; 4. if it’s still a “no” your teen makes a second counterargument; 5. you listen and respond; 5. if it’s still a “no” your teen makes a third and final counterargument; 6. you listen and respond; if it’s a “no” discussion would normally be over at this point. Also, keep in mind that being open to being persuaded by good arguments (not pushed over, but persuaded) is important.

#6. Bounce your thinking off of wise and experienced parents who are objhip teens:college studentsective and are as likely to agree as to disagree with you. This can help you to get a better sense for what you want to do .

Good luck!

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