A group of teens hanging out together.

Helping Your Teen Make New Friends

We can all recall our awkward and uncertain years, worrying about who we would sit next to on the first day of class or what table to eat at during lunch. Being a teen is tough, often embarrassing, and sometimes anxiety provoking. But a strong network of healthy friendships is a beacon of light for teens struggling to find their way through the complicated stages of growing up and forming an identity. Of course, learning how to make friends as a teen can be challenging, and meeting like-minded peers can feel close to impossible. Luckily, it can be easier and more fun to find new friends and build relationships than you might think! To help you get started, here are our favorite tips for how to help your teen make friends. 

Join a Club

Is there something your teen is fascinated by? Maybe it is literature, robotics, politics, or anime! Without a social outlet to explore these curiosities, your teen is missing out on a fantastic opportunity to make friends with people that share their interests. If you notice your teen pursuing something fun in their free time, suggest they find a corresponding club at their school to meet people that like the same thing they do. You can help your teen do some research to see what their school offers or help them start their own club and see who joins! By focusing on things that truly interest your teen, they can be grouped with others that have the same level of zest for their passions. Organized club meetings will create scheduled time for your teen to work their way up to new friendships with exciting new people!

Start a Sport

Getting exercise is not just a crucial mental health resource; for teens, practicing sports can be a life changing way to meet new people and build friendships for life. Choosing a sport places your teen on a team like a built-in friendship circle that can grow in strength to feel like a second family. The drive to do their best, together, for a common goal, creates an environment ripe for bonding. So, if your teen is looking for a new way to get their exercise in, ask them to consider starting a sport. Remind them that the organized time to exercise with others means they can get healthy and be social at the same time! If they are interested, offer to help them find a program that sounds exciting, figure out what tools they need to succeed, and sign up! 

Try New Electives

Each day your teen walks on campus, they enter multiple classrooms filled with dozens of potential new friends. But sometimes, the nature of history and math classes make focusing and meeting new people hard to achieve during the same time block. So, encourage your teen to choose electives that allow them to be more social. If they haven’t found a community in their existing electives, support them in trying something new. Whether they like art, music, drama, or learning new languages, this is the perfect opportunity to switch it up! For the tough teen to crack, suggest they take part in an acting class on campus that pushes them to get out of their comfort zone and interact with extroverts too! Ultimately, whatever they are curious about, it’s a chance to put themselves out there, grow alongside other students, and learn how to make friends as a teen. 

Form a Study Group

With all of the time teens spend on their homework, it would be nice if some of it could be social time too. Forming study groups can be a great way to get the best of both worlds! So if your teen is struggling to make friends, they can offer to start a study group for students in their classes to get together and learn as a team. Chances are, other members of the class are looking for new friends or help with studying and will jump at the opportunity! Suggest to your teen that they ask around and invite fellow students to meet at lunch or after school to study for an upcoming test. If your teen particularly excels at a subject, they can even start tutoring. Find out if their school has a tutoring program or have them ask their teachers to match them up with pupils. Your teen can feel the sense of reward through helping others and also meet new people their age along the way. 

Look Beyond School

At school, teens are surrounded by a large group of the same people year after year. It can be challenging to figure out how to make new friends as a teen who feels like they already know everyone in their school. It can also be beneficial for young people to broaden their horizons and find new friends who don’t have an in-school identity to compare them to. Finding new people outside of school can take some of the pressure off, allowing them to just be themselves! Starting an extracurricular activity away from school can be a great way to do this. Maybe they want to go to a summer camp, take classes at the local community college, or start up a new hobby like fencing, sculpture, or yoga that their school doesn’t offer. This is their chance to meet people they haven’t seen before, make new first impressions, and build a unique identity that feels truly genuine.

Start Volunteering

Teens feel good when they engage in activities that help them feel fulfilled both socially and personally. A beautiful way to achieve both is by finding a cause and starting to volunteer. Maybe your teen has a cause in mind already or simply wants to help others. Do some research together on what they find interesting and select a few options. Teens can decide from there or try out a few options until they find their true passion. Help your teen set a plan for when they feel like volunteering can comfortably fit within their schedule on a regular basis. Having the peace of mind can help teens feel free to socialize during their volunteer hours, rather than worrying about upcoming exams. Keep your eyes out for opportunities that involve time with other teens. Then go ahead, and sign up! 

At Tilly’s Life Center, we believe that making new friends is vital to teens’ social growth, identity, and happiness. Without adequate friendships or other forms of support, mental health can become a serious challenge. Having a strong network of trusted friends can be key for teens to build social skills and live positive lifestyles. Our mission is to provide a Social Emotional Learning curriculum and mental health resources for teens that help them handle life’s challenges and cope with difficult situations, including making and maintaining healthy friendships. To learn more, visit us at www.tillyslifecenter.org