Listen: Timothy Charles chats to parenting expert Michelle Mitchell about the importance of friendship groups for your teenager.
For many teens in middle and high school, friendship can often mean focussing on the bestie, or a very small circle of friends.
Michelle Mitchell is an author, educator and speaker who specialises in tweens and teens and was the founder of the health charity Youth Excel.
Michelle told 96five’s Timothy Charles that success in high school was often about moving out of that small circle.
“One of the greatest predictors of success in high school is a large friendship base. When they’re in primary school we often encourage this bestie’s mentality – a small group of friends, and you have your bestie over for sleepovers, but they need more than this in high school. They need multiple levels of support and the broader the better.”
So why exactly does a broad spectrum of friends lead to success?
“When one relationship is a little tense and needs a bit of breathing room, it’s not about breaking up, but sometimes you do need another friendship group to go to. There’s nothing like walking through the school grounds and having multiple people saying hello and knowing you as a person.”
One way for our kids to broaden their friendship circles is to sign up for different activities.
“Getting involved in a community and signing up to small groups and programs is a way to connect with like minded people. They don’t have to be the best or the most popular, but our teens do need to feel like they’re heard and known for something at school is really important.”
Michelle also said that it’s important to support our tweens and teens with helping to facilitate their social lives, and the freedom to have friends over on the weekends.
“We need to prioritise our kid’s relationships – it’s just so important to say to our kids that if their friends want to come over they are welcome. I used to tell my son that his social life was my highest priority and the grin would be ear to ear!”
Michelle Mitchell is an award-winning speaker, and bestselling parenting author. She has been termed ‘the teenage expert’ and is sought after for her compassionate and grounded advice for parenting tweens and teens.