Relationships that teens foster -- whether good, bad or indifferent -- may impact them for the rest of their lives. The ability to develop and maintain good relationships is the key to social acceptability, which may enrich a teenager’s feelings of self-worth. Teens are constantly questioning their roles and places in society, and having meaningful relationships helps them understand who they are and influences how they see themselves.
Without friends, teens may withdraw and lack confidence around peers and others in their lives. As children approach adolescence, they often form cliques; later they may socialize with different groups based on their changing interests. While it is true that peers may have negative influences on one another, it is just as true that the influence may be positive. Parents who allow teens to make decisions at home often find that it helps them make good decisions outside the home -- and that includes choosing friends with whom they share interests and values.
The dynamics of family life are as varied as the personalities within the family. They are vital to teach, guide and promote teen psychosocial interactions that will remain a part of their lives. Teens often want to spend less time with family than when they were younger, but having a connection with family members who affirm and support the basic need to belong helps them grow and develop regardless of how often they protest. Families can be expressive, argumentative or opinionated, but feeling safe and knowing they can be themselves without condemnation teaches teenagers to value themselves and one another.
Healthy romantic relationships during adolescence can be emotionally supportive and help improve interpersonal skills as teens learn to communicate and negotiate within the relationship. These early forays into romance are fraught with heartache as teen relationships are not usually long-lasting. While she may feel depressed for a while after a break-up, your teen will learn to cope with heartache and learn to handle difficult situations. The key to overcoming heartache in a romantic relationship is to continue to have a life outside of the relationship. Partners selected based on character rather than looks will produce a more meaningful quality of time spent together, according to West Suburban Teen Clinic.
Adults -- including parents, grandparents, counselors, teachers, ministers and coaches -- can find myriad ways to interact with teens in affirmative ways. This helps teens develop high levels of self-esteem, independence and good decision-making skills. The correlation between the natural mentoring of teens -- as opposed to formal mentoring -- and how they feel about themselves is evident in a study by Students Against Destructive Decisions and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. In the study, mentors had a profoundly positive effect on an adolescent's self-esteem and positive risk-taking. Surveying more than 3,300 teenagers, researchers found that teens who had the benefit of a mentor made significantly better choices about risky behaviors.
- Act for Youth: Adolescent Romantic Relationships
- West Suburban Teen Clinic: The Benefits of a Committed Relationship
- SADD: New Study Shows Teen with “Natural” Mentors Have Higher Sense of Self and Take More Positive Risks
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Teen Friendships are Important
- HealthyChildren.org: The Importance of Family
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