“No man is an island,” we all know that. We may be introverts, extroverts or ambiverts – but we will always need that one friend we can turn to that isn’t our family member. After all, we can’t choose family but we can always choose our friends.

At some point, you were in your kids’ shoes. You make friends, keep friends. Some you grow out of, some you have with you throughout your life. Some kids don’t find it easy to make friends, and it’s special when they do. But, are they healthy friendships?

It all boils down to the quality of company your kids keep, are they healthy or toxic for one another?

If you want to know how to help your teen make friends and handle the toxic ones, keep reading! This might even help you cope in your own friendships, too.

5 Ways To Help Teenagers Build Healthy Friendships

1) Let them make their own decisions.

Like friendships, showing your child you are giving them the freedom to decide for themselves is how they will learn they should also be treated in friendships. Always give them the chance to prove themselves capable of handling their own stories. Trust them enough to know that if they need help, they will go to you.

Making their own decisions will give you a foundation of trust that they may soon build with their own friendships.

2) Tell them ‘how’ and ‘why’ instead of ‘what’.

healthy friendships

Teach them how to improve themselves and the relationships they have and why friendships are important. Teaching them ‘what’ to do may give them a narrow idea of how to do things and make them dependent, relying too much on you or their friendships.

3) Help them understand friendships.

Give them the idea that friendships with different people are different, also considering that people have different love languages in general. Some may be vocal about how they care or interact, some show only actions while some may even project tough love.

The key factor to handling different relationships is understanding the basic foundation of a strong bond. If there is respect, trust and growth – a friendship will bloom. As long as no one steps on each others’ toes and they respect where each other is coming from, they’re already halfway to building a sustainable relationship.

4) Guide them through unhealthy relationships.

Unhealthy relationships come in different forms. Some of the instances where friends gaslight, use backhanded comments and all of that being okay to some friends is a red flag. But, they can always be managed in a good way. Handling these things in friendships is shown through being honest about getting hurt, telling the person that it’s not always okay to do or say such things or helping them understand why it is wrong in the first place.

Not all unhealthy friendships should be discarded, and not all toxic people have to be let go of.

5) Be A Role Model

healthy friendships

Your friendship with your child is the best way to show them how to be a friend. They may not listen to your words of affirmation or advice, but they will always look at their relationship with you and how you act. Always be the friend you hope your child has.

What Are The Best Ways To Handle Unhealthy Friendships?

healthy friendships

It is important to remember that friendship goes two ways. Always communicate with your child and ask how they are doing with their friends. How you show your friendship to your child is how they project theirs to friends. The good news is that unhealthy friendships aren’t always doomed, and there’s always a way to turn them around.

  • Teach your child to respect boundaries and opinions. Just because they have different perspectives, they can’t be friends. They can always adjust to one another, and maybe take it as lessons friends learn from each other to broaden their beliefs and mindset.
  • Build trustworthy and thoughtful friendships. In order to build trust with another person, it is important to also invest trust little by little as well. It’s a process that takes time and patience, but it’s worth it once they establish it. And when they start to trust one another, they can start to be more open, more vulnerable to one another to build a deeper sense of trust for the friendship to grow.
  • Always give your friend the benefit of the doubt. 
  • Turn down shade or disrespect as soon as they are shown.
  • A hug or squeezing the hand can always lighten the mood.

How Are Unhealthy Friendships Not Salvageable?

healthy friendships

  • Trust and respect in the friendship cannot be established no matter what effort is made.
  • One just takes and takes without regard to the other person in the friendship. It is a parasitic friendship that will lead nowhere.
  • Some friends show narcissistic behaviours that become toxic positivity to their peers.
  • Actions do not match their words. One person is either disrespected or humiliated on a regular basis. Some are constantly gaslighted that they are “overreacting” to being disrespected and humiliated.
  • They show red flags in the friendship that are nowhere near improvements after trying to help one another.
  • Faults are made more than three times without sincere remorse.

In A Nutshell…

Good friendships are hard to find in the world, sometimes they are built. Like everything beautiful, friendships are also a process that people establish after some challenges and trials. There is no perfect friendship, but with the relationship being built on trust, respect and care for one another, it does go a long way.

What one healthy friendship advice would you give another person going through a rough patch?