Whether your teen is new to school, is shy or has trouble fitting in with peers, encouraging her to get out and meet other kids her age has several benefits. Having a group of friends gives your teen someone to spend time with and share her interests with. The right friends can also influence your teen to make good choices, help her feel accepted and introduce her to new experiences.
Getting outside and moving around improves your teen's mood and gives him the chance to meet other teens, according to the University of Michigan. It also gives him a chance to burn off some energy and stay physically fit. If your teen enjoys watching sports or spends time tossing a ball against the side of the garage, help him find a sports team to join where he can meet other kids his age. If your teen's school does not have a team for his chosen sport, look at nearby recreation centers or city leagues. Joining a sports team lets your teen get to know other kids with similar interests and gives him someone to hang out with outside practice and games.
For many teens, forming a relationship with one person is less overwhelming than trying to join an entire group of other teens, according to the Empowering Parents website. Meeting other teens online lets your child talk about sensitive issues without fear of judgment, adds the Raising Children Network. While it is vital to teach your child proper online safety, allowing him to meet other teens without fear of rejection because of his looks, interests or current social status at school can help him practice social skills and give him a peer to talk to. Never allow your child to meet an online friend in person without your supervision.
Classes and Clubs
Finding a club that feeds a passion is an ideal way to connect your teen with other kids that have similar interests. This helps her form friendships because she will want to spend time with other teens that are interested in the same things, according to the National Center for Youth Issues. Many schools offer music, debate, chess and choir clubs. If none of them interest your teen or she wants to look for friends outside of school, check with your local recreation center for dance groups, music classes or scouting opportunities. Some craft and fabric stores offer classes that teach teens to knit or embroider. Many libraries can link your teen with an age-appropriate reading club.
Your teen might groan if you suggest volunteering, but many opportunities are enjoyable for teens. Volunteering helps connect your teen to other teens with similar interests and gives him the chance to work on his social skills, according to the Help Guide website. If your teen loves animals, connect him with a local shelter where he can walk or bathe dogs. If he is an avid reader, sign him up to re-shelve books at the library. If your teen is old enough and has the time, a part-time job at a local plant nursery, daycare center or fast food restaurant gives him the chance to interact with other kids his age and earn some money at the same time.
- Raising Children Network: Why Teenage Friendships are Important
- Help Guide: Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits
- Empowering Parents: When Your Child Says, “I Don’t Fit In.”
- University of Michigan Health: Physical Activity for Children and Teens
- National Center for Youth Issues: Helping Kids Fit In to a New School
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