"Not without my friends" might well be the phrase that generally defines teenagers. They become their references, confidants, family, and they do not know how to live without them.
Friendship in adolescence is essential for effective and healthy social development and appropriate in all stages of development, but is especially important in adolescence.
One of the things that usually worries parents at this stage are friends and the changes that in this stage occur at the social level, in which parents lose part of their leading role and friends and the peer group gain it.
Adolescence is a stage of development of multiple and important changes at the cognitive, social, emotional, moral and affective levels. Changes that represent for the adolescent the gateway to adulthood and the end of childhood. This is quite an ambivalent stage, in which they are no longer children but they are not adults either.
As parents, we must bear in mind that in this stage of so many changes, friends play a very important role in the development of adolescentsThey help them adjust to the physical changes of puberty, to seek their personal identity or to strengthen their self-esteem. Friendship takes on an importance that it did not have before, and is a fundamental element in that transition from childhood to adult life and in the socialization of the youngest.
Let's see some of the functions that the group of friends fulfills in adolescence:
- Offers support to adjust to social changes of this stage, as for example, the passage to the institute.
- It serves as a reference for personal identity. Their colleagues and friends go through the same things as them, so they are a reference for them.
- Friends help define their own values.
- They're a source of understanding and of support before the physical and emotional changes that suffer in this stage.
Adolescents look to their friends for welcome, understanding and mutual help, at a time when everyone has a similar problem, and when they do not identify with their parents, whom they often see as authoritarian and imposing figures.
Something that characterizes friendship at this age is intensity and intimacy, unlike friends in previous stages. Now friends are everything, they need them and they become the fundamental pillars in their development.
The traits of friendships at this age are:
- the trust
- the sincerity
- fidelity or loyalty
Although it is true that friends are fundamental for the development of adolescents, and are usually similar to them in tastes and values, the group of friends is also sometimes a source of pressure, especially in those cases in which the adolescent feels that he needs to be accepted by others, and may be tempted or forced to do things with which he does not agree.
This influence or pressure from the group is normal in adolescence, but it is still a risk, so it is important that from an early age we teach them to trust them and help them develop a positive self-concept.
And this is where the role of parents is fundamental. Parents must work to establish good communication with our children always, but even more so at this stage, since Although friends become the main reference for our children, they do not stop needing us and we have to be accessible to them. If we show them that we trust them, and that they can trust us, it will be easier for them to come to us in case they need our help or advice.
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