Friendship—that close connection with another person which allows us to feel valued and cared for—is vital at any stage of life. The need for love and belonging has long been established as one of our basic needs as human beings. And it has been well documented that having strong, healthy relationships improves our self-esteem and overall well-being. As valuable as these connections are, however, they do not always come easily or naturally, particularly for adolescents.
We’ve all known the charismatic, outgoing teenager who is friends with everyone and approaches social situations with ease and grace. We’ve also known the awkward, insecure teenager who struggles to connect with people and becomes more withdrawn with each friendship that crashes and burns. While some of it has to do with personality and development, it is just as important to remember that just like so many aspects of adolescent development, making friends is a skill that can be learned.