How to Talk to Your Teen About Friendship

Learning how to be a good friend is an important lesson for teenagers

Young people having fun

Stanislaw Pytel / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Having friends, finding new friendships and friendly relationships is an important part of preteen and teen development. Talking to your teen about how to be a good friend and what a healthy friendship is can help them as they mature.

Teen Friendships are Different than Kid Friendships

While they have learned to 'play well with others' during their childhood, developing independent friendships is a different matter.

When they were younger, parents often arranged play dates. Now preteens and teens will be left to use their own resources in deciding whether to be someone's friend or not.

Parents must give their teenager some freedom in choosing who they want to hang out with. Really, in the teen years, friendship is a whole new ball game.

How Parents Can Help Teens

You can help your teen in choosing their friends, although the ultimate decision remains with your teenager. A teen who learns to have healthy friendships now will continue this practice into their adult life.

Use teachable moments to talk about what makes a good friend. Your daughter may get into an argument with her best friend over a boy or your son may have a spat with his lifelong friend over a football game.

These are opportunities that parents can take advantage of to explain the finer points of dealing with friendships. Make sure that you do not take sides in the fight. Instead, listen and try to understand how your child is feeling.

11 Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Friendships

Here are a few points to remember when talking about friendships with your teenager:

  • Everyone is allowed to have many friends and many types of friends.
  • Honesty is important in a friendship.
  • Friends sometimes hurt each other, but they can always apologize and forgive each other.
  • Friends can influence each other, both in a positive way and in a negative way. It is important to discuss peer pressure with your teen.
  • Who you choose to be your friend is important. It is essential that you choose wisely and that you benefit from the friendship.
  • It takes many learned skills to make and maintain a friendship. It also takes many skills to end a friendship.
  • It is okay and even beneficial to make friends with the opposite gender.
  • It can take time to make a good friend. It is often worth the effort because a good friend can be a confidant to help a teenager with stress or problems.
  • Spending time together will help you get to know your friends well so that you can feel comfortable sharing feelings.
  • A good friendship will make you feel good about yourself.
  • It is okay for friends to outgrow each other. People change as they find new interests and people to hang out with as they mature.
Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hiatt C, Laursen B, Stattin H, Kerr M. Best Friend Influence Over Adolescent Problem Behaviors: Socialized by the SatisfiedJ Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2017;46(5):695–708. doi:10.1080/15374416.2015.1050723

  2. Birkeland MS, Breivik K, Wold B. Peer acceptance protects global self-esteem from negative effects of low closeness to parents during adolescence and early adulthood. J Youth Adolesc. 2014;43(1):70-80. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9929-1