Tweens and Friendships

Dealing with the Ups and Downs

By the time a child begins middle school, friendships take center stage. As children pull away from their parents, they place more and more importance on their relationships with their peers. But middle school friendships can prove to be difficult every now and then. Here's how to help your tween troubleshoot difficult friendships, and make the most of peer relationships.


Help Your Tween Make and Keep Friends

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If your child is having trouble making friends, you can help. While you can't make your child's friends for him, you can teach him how to approach other children, and put his best foot forward. Help your tween develop possible conversation starters, and encourage your child to approach children who are new at school or in the neighborhood.


Understanding Friendships and Peer Pressure

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Peer pressure tends to escalate during the tween years as children attempt to fit in and bond with their school mates. Not all peer pressure is bad, but you need to know what you're up against should your child feel pressured to smoke, drink, or break your family rules. Talk about possible pressures your child will face from her friends and develop strategies to deal with them. Let your child know that he can always come to you for advice on dealing with peer pressure.


Look Out for Bullying

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Bullying behavior tends to peak during the middle school years, and many students who are bullied are so embarrassed that they refuse to tell an adult. It's important to know the signs of bullying so that you can help your child overcome and diffuse the situation. If your chip faces bullying at school or on the bus, he needs to let you know so that you can deal with the situation. You may even need to contact your child's school for assistance.


Spot the Mean Girls

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Middle school can be especially difficult for girls, especially if they run into the class mean girl. Knowing how to spot mean girls and other bullies is the first step to avoiding them. Ask your tween if she knows how to handle manipulative or spiteful "friends" and what she would do if one of her friends suddenly turned against her.


Academic Achievement and Peer Relationships

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Did you know your child's friendships can affect his academic achievement? It's true, there is a link between academic achievement and peer acceptance. But your child doesn't have to be the most popular kid in school to be a good student.

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Article Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age). Updated February 6, 2019.

  2. Wang J, Iannotti RJ, Nansel TR. School bullying among adolescents in the United States: physical, verbal, relational, and cyberJ Adolesc Health. 2009;45(4):368–375. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.03.021

  3. Lessard LM, Juvonen J. Cross-class friendship and academic achievement in middle school. Dev Psychol. 2019;55(8):1666-1679. doi:10.1037/dev0000755