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How do you deal with adolescent friendship problems, especially when they are left out?

For adolescents, friendships are everything. They provide both social support and proof of social status. The social support of friendship contributes greatly to the adolescent's resilience and well-being.

So a friend's betrayal cuts to the bone. How do you cope with adolescent friendship problems, especially when they are cast aside?

Keep cool

As a parent, when your child is left out, often the first instinct is to jump into the fray. I recommend restraint. It's incredibly painful to watch your child suffer, but as parents, we usually only hear one side of the story. Getting involved doesn't allow your child to learn important coping strategies.

Don't be negative

With teenagers, stories and friendships change quickly. You don't know where that relationship will go next week, next month or next year. If your teen becomes close friends with that friend again, it's a tough situation if you criticized him or her the day before.

Be curious about being left out

As a parent, you can stop this snowball effect by asking questions like, "You seem to be taking it personally and making it about you. Is it possible it's not about you? What else could it mean? How could you find out?"

Help them see a pattern

If you see this same type of situation happening again with a friend of your teen, it's okay to share your observations. "You can say something like "It seems like a lot of times when you hang out with these friends, you feel hurt. Have you noticed that?". You want to reinforce to your teens that relationships should make you feel better. If friendship problems make you feel worse, they probably aren't the healthiest relationships.

Also, the pattern may mean that your child needs to fix something in the way he or she communicates or acts.

Emphasize quality over quantity

Although many teens long for a large social circle of friends, research has shown that the happiest teens are those who have a couple of friends, or even just one close friend they feel they can trust.

Check your own reaction

One of the reasons the topic of friendships is such a touchy one for parents is because they have their own friendship scars. For moms and dads, almost none of us emerge unscathed from the social interactions of adolescence. And we may still be dealing with friendship issues now. Without being aware of it, parents may be transferring their own feelings of anger and feeling left out to their children's situation. This is something to pay attention to.


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