Friends are the family you choose. They are the ones who see you at your best, support you at your worst, and stand by you. True friendships are hard to find and require much effort to develop mutual trust and respect.
Friendships are a key part of adolescence. Many youths look to their peers for support to cope with personal challenges as they form their identity and find their place in life. Additionally, youths with a supportive social network are less likely to develop mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety .
With this in mind, how can youths work towards fostering a deeper bond with their friends?
Be an active listener: Active listening is more than just nodding along to what your friend says. Follow up on points your friend says and ask sincere questions to make the discussion more meaningful . If your friend shares their troubles, empathise with them and validate their feelings. This way, you can sustain a heart-to-heart conversation where your friend feels seen and understood.
Help your friends: We usually turn to friends when hard times befall us. True friends are always willing to offer a helping hand when we need it, so try your best to do the same where possible. Even small gestures such as lending your stationery during class or studying together after school are meaningful ways to help a friend in need. However, do remember to take care of your own needs, and not spread yourself too thin.
Spend time with your friends: Find opportunities to bond through common activities such as picking up a new sport or learning a new language together. Sparing five minutes to text or call also shows that you keep your friend in your thoughts, which goes a long way in sustaining the friendship . Beyond that, the rise of social media has made it more convenient for us to connect with our friends.
Encourage your friends to try new things: Friends will normally encourage you to go out of your comfort zone and grow as a person. Your friends may invite you to take part in activities such as volunteering or visiting popular hangout spots in your neighbourhood. These shared experiences might teach you something new about yourself, your friend and the world around you.
Speak kindly to your friends: Friendships should have a healthy amount of humour and banter, but know when to draw the line with some jokes. As such, avoid making jokes that bring up your friend’s insecurities. Try giving your friends genuine compliments to show your appreciation for them instead. For example, your friend might be very talented in dancing. You could tell your friend that their dancing is very expressive and graceful, which would give your friend the confidence to continue pursuing this passion.
Navigating friendships seem challenging at first but with compassion and understanding, you can create lifelong connections with people who would go the distance for you.
TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on preparing for and raising a new-born, navigating the digital age with their child, parent-child communication, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It is also appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as the Parent Support Provider (PSP) for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore.
1. Danial, John. “Teenage Friendships: why they are so important and how to address common issues” Simi Psychological Group, Simi Psychological Group, https://simipsychologicalgroup.com/teenage-friendships-why-are-they-so-important/
2. “Active Listening: Hear What People Are Really Saying.” Active Listening - Communication Skills Training from MindTools.com, MindTools, https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/ActiveListening.htm.
3. Parker-Pope, Tara. “How to Be a Better Friend.” The New York Times, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/how-to-be-a-better-friend.