Friendships and just plain dealing with other students in school can be difficult. Do your teens ever come across students who put others down for being smart, well-behaved, industrious and moral? This nasty behaviour is done to devalue those traits that others have but they don’t have themselves. Let’s help teens navigate through some of these challenges of this “minefield” called school that they might encounter.

Cliques

Why do cliques form? They form because teens can feel unsure of themselves socially…lack confidence and social skills. Cliques and gangs (carried to an extreme degree) offer love, approval, protection & support. The more the clique puts people down, the cooler they feel. Help your teen to decide on whether being part of a clique is worth the time or is that important. Maybe even ignore the clique and develop their own friends based on those who are warm, interesting and inviting.

Peer Pressure

Friends may become involved in questionable activities…just say NO. No is the ultimate self-control. “No, thank you” “I’d prefer not to” “Count me out”. No further explanation is required – stand firm. Responding with an explanation can put you on the defensive. Besides, once your teen says No, others may follow their lead.

Back Biting

Person A tells you your friend has been saying nasty thing about YOU. What should you do? Did Person A hear it from your friend or has it been passed on from person to person. Check out the backbiting rumor with your friend – give him/her the benefit of the doubt. Tell him/her what you heard and how it made you feel.

Shunning

For no reason, friends start to avoid your teen…stop talking, don’t return calls, etc. Your teen feels sad & lonely. Suggest that your teen ask him/herself some questions – have I changed? Have I done something that might be causing problems? If nothing comes to mind, chat with one trusted friend alone. Hopefully, he/she will shed some light. If it’s a misunderstanding, then it can be set straight. Sometimes, friends break up for no reason. If this is the case, remind your teen to hold their head high and make new friends.

Taking Sides

If two friends are at odd with each other, let your teen know to refrain from taking sides even if they enlist his/her support. Don’t let either person badmouth the other to your teen. However, your teen could relay good information like, “If only Sue would apologize, I’d forget the whole thing.” Report that information to the other friend in the hopes that there can be a reconciliation.

Telling Secrets

Keeping secrets can be difficult because information is POWER. The friend may not be acting with malice. He/She may think that they’re passing on a secret to a trusted friend. But then that friend may tell their “trusted” friend and so and so on. One sure-fire way of not having secrets revealed is never tell any in the first place.

Jealousy

Teach your teen to be happy for their friends’ achievements. Never feel jealous or compare themselves to others. They are different and your teen has many talents, too. Focus on the positive.

According to Alex J. Packer who wrote, “How Rude: A Teenagers’ Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and not Grossing People out”, when teens choose to practice good manners with peers, they can avoid that suffering and anxiety that exists in school corridors. They will enjoy closer and more rewarding relationships with friends. They can still act cool but without the attitude!!


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