A common worry/concern when starting Secondary School is about making new friends. This is really natural however remember one thing – everyone wants to have friends. So everyone is in the same boat! Try to remember that everyone will be feeling the same way.
Try not to worry too much as you may start to feel lonely and think nobody likes you. When you feel lonely, you can feel like everyone has friends except you. So why not try some of the following ideas to make friends:
- Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to
- Join a school club – it’s a great way to find people who like the same things as you
- Join a group outside school – for a hobby or sport, and then you can widen your friendship group
As you get to know these new friends, there is one critical friendship check you need to do – and that is you need to recognise healthy and unhealthy behaviours in each relationship. This can make you think about your friends, and what to do when they act negatively. The key question to ask yourself : “Do I feel good about myself when I’m with this friend?”
Sometimes we might try and fit in by doing things that the friends want. This can often buying similar clothes, watching the same movies, and you tube channels or listening to the same music. But sometimes there may be pressure to do something you don’t want to do, for example:
- Picking on/teasing someone else
- Messing about in lessons
- Causing problems out of school
- Doing things that you know you don’t feel comfortable doing
If your friends want to do something you don’t want to do – there are ways to deal with this:
- Try and say how you feel – often you will not be the only person feeling that way
- Have some reasons thought through so you can explain why you don’t want to do it
- Talk to someone else, and explain how you feel. This could be a friend, parent, teacher, or a school counsellor.
Remember that sometimes you need to think is this a good friendship for me. Therefore listen to your gut and your feelings – you do know if this is a well-balanced friendship. This feeling actually underpins all our friendships.
This enables you to make choices about the friends you are spending time with. The key is to be open to as many friendships as possible, don’t just make one or two friends, broaden out as much as possible, don’t judge people on your first impression of them! (They may be nervous and not being their true self.)
Then when you have a good wide group of many friends – you really can understand who makes you feel good about yourself and enjoy getting to know them. Also, you can then realise that you don’t feel great about yourself when you hang out with a certain group of friends.
You are empowered to change your friendship group and to take proactive steps to do just this. So make sure you regularly check how you are feeling about the individuals and you will soon understand which new friends are the ones you want to nurture – the ones that make you feel good, the relationship will feel balanced, and positive.
All our relationships start with the one we have with ourselves. How do we actually speak to ourselves? With an encouraging and positive “inner voice”, instead of a grumpy, critical one, then we come from a position of strength and are able to meet people in an equal and supportive way.
A crucial step for building strong healthy friendships is to be more positive.
We can’t control other people
We can’t control other people! It’s so true! All we can do is control our thinking and behaviour in a situation, not control the other person.
And we all have choices in our relationships. If we consistently put up with unhealthy behaviour in friendships it affects our self-worth.
As A Parent
We have found some excellent initiatives that many schools are offering which build resilience and personal skills, enabling teen girls (suitable for Years 7, 8 & 9) to progress both personally and academically. A great example of this is Confident Teen www.confidenteen.co.uk.
As a parent, it’s important to provide the strategies for your daughter but most of all they must feel empowered that they are in charge of their own friendships.
Confident Teen has provided three ideas you can use to empower tween/ teen girls to navigate their friendship difficulties.
Recognising unhealthy behaviour
By equipping girls with understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviour in relationships, and realising that they deserve to be in nurturing, caring relationships they are learning skills which will benefit them throughout their lives. The insights they have gained, and the skills they have learned will mean they are in a stronger place to make better choices for themselves.