by Travis Hopgood

Help your son make and maintain good friendships

When boys begin school, they can do with some help to develop the best friendships to thrive and set them up for years ahead.

As boys transition to secondary school, they are encouraged to develop greater independence and with it, cope with new routines, new teachers and a new friendship group. 

Occasionally, the boys might find their days emotionally demanding. We all know that our sense of balance can be compromised when we are juggling many different demands and responsibilities.

As teachers, parents and students, we owe it to each other to recognise and let others know when we are not travelling well. At these times, we all need to have family, friends and mentors who have the capacity to make objective comments on our performance, listen to our ideas and concerns, and suggest alternative options. This helps us to feel safe and supported as we get back on track.

As adults, we tend to have a few people in our lives who monitor our attitudes, behaviours and performance and offer constructive feedback. However, for a boy starting his time at a new school, or a young man wanting to connect with like-minded learners to be the best he can be, it can be more difficult to find these people.

Secondary school can be a lonely place for boys who don’t have a best friend or a group of trusted friends.

Here are 4 ways that can you help your son become more skilled in the art of making genuine friends (and keeping them).

Positive mindset

It may seem obvious but having a positive mindset is an important first step. You can help your son achieve this by modelling self-positive talk at home and encouraging him to be optimistic about life and school in particular.

Social skills

In my experience, boys who have some basic social skills are more comfortable in group situations and in mixing with their peers.  Work with your son to develop some strategies that he can use at school and at home. His teacher could give some insight into how he is coping socially.

Strong sense of self

We encourage boys at school to be assertive in their opinions but to always respect the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of others. Being assertive, but not aggressive, can help boys in not only sticking up for themselves, but by giving them a sense of self-assuredness.

We can help our boys to practise assertiveness at home, by making them feel comfortable to make their views known in a controlled way.

Healthy parent relationships

Finally, boys who have a good and healthy relationship with a parent or carer that includes honest talk are more likely to have good and healthy relationships with their peers.

There are a number of ways to can stay connected and work on your relationship with your son- using unplanned, everyday interactions, such as a casual chat while travelling in the car, or planning a special time to do things together that you both enjoy.

Being there for your son, encouraging him and communicating any concerns with his teachers can all help to guide your son in this important aspect of his adolescent years.

 

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Travis Hopgood is a father of two teenage boys. He is Director of Students (Years 7-12) at Brighton Grammar – an all-boys’ school in Melbourne. This article is about

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