Create Your Friendship Team

Healthy relationships are the cornerstone of a healthy life. A good friend supports and encourages growth. Youth need guidance in finding good friends. A variety of relationships encourages acceptance of differences, conflict resolution and practicing social skills, reports Nebraska Extension Assistant Lori Swanson.

Relationships with peers, influence choices. This influence is commonly referred to as peer pressure. Positive peer influence reinforces favorable actions. A friend may talk another friend into going to a movie because they liked the movie. Negative peer pressure uses intimidation to adversely impact an individual’s choices. This false friend may go so far as to introduce risky behavior such as alcohol or drugs into another’s life.

Reassure youth finding friends is a life-long process. Relationships formed in youth may or may not last. The lessons learned through early relationships assist in forming new, stronger bonds later in life. The feeling of belonging strongly impacts selection of friends. Allow youth to engage in activities reflecting their interests to meet new people. Remind youth the choice of friends belongs to them. Reenforce the idea that they are the coach, and they get to choose the players for their friendship team.  Open a dialogue of what kinds of players they want on their team and which player would be bad for their friendship team. Teams come in all kinds of sizes. The number of friends should be second to the quality.

Interacting with a variety of friends brings a diversity of experiences into the relationships. Friends can positively introduce new foods, cultures, and outlooks on daily life. It may something as small as learning to try a new flavor of potato chip. Such experiences give color to the ordinary and allow youth a positive experience in learning how to handle a new social experience. Experiencing trustworthy relationships leads to a lifetime of connections.

More information can be found in the Health Rocks! 4-H curriculum. Contact your local 4-H program for details or on the web at: Nebraska Extension In Our Grit, Our Glory.

UN–L for Families
Nancy Frecks, Extension Educator
Nebraska Extension