Posted: May 28, 2012 8:00 AM
Friends can make or break the way teens feel about themselves. When a friendship hits a rough patch, teenagers don’t always know how to move forward. Parents can help guide teens towards making the best decisions without being too overbearing. Keep reading for tips on how to deal with mean girls and two other common teen troubles.

Mean girls

Most people recognize the signs and characteristics of a mean girl. Whether they tell lies, gossip about other girls, exclude them from social gatherings or simply give them the cold shoulder -- at school, these girls are just plain bullies. Teens need to feel confident about themselves in order to get past these taunts. Encourage your daughter to pursue activities that nurture her sense of self-worth. Opening the lines of communication in a casual way helps teens feel they can share more easily with parents. Ask open-ended questions about your teen's day at school and then listen. According to Signe Whitson, a licensed social worker and author, "When parents understand what girl bullying is all about and give their daughters opportunities to talk about it, they are in the best position to teach her enduring skills for healthy friendship development."

Jealous or controlling friends

Nothing sours a friendship faster than when one person becomes too controlling. Healthy friendships have a give-and-take between friends, good communication and mutual respect. Ask your teen what they like about their friend, rather than making judgments for them. Encourage them to speak to their friend about how the controlling behavior makes them feel. When a teen starts to dread spending time with an overbearing friend, it may be time for them to cut ties. By being supportive and helping your teen make this decision on their own, you are encouraging them to learn problem-solving skills that will help them throughout their life.

Substance abuse

It is highly likely that your teen will be exposed to drug and alcohol use. Making the right decisions about drugs and alcohol is particularly difficult when there is pressure from their friends to join the party. When a close friend falls victim to substance abuse, this puts a strain on their friendship with your teen. Keep the casual conversation flowing and be listening for clues that your teen is worried about their friend. Knowing they can voice their concerns to you without being lectured makes all the difference.

By helping your teen learn how to deal with difficult friendship issues, you are giving him the tools he needs for managing adult relationships down the road.

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