August means back to class for tens of thousands of Northeast Florida youth and teens. You’ll reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in months. And you’ll no doubt meet a whole host of new people. As the 2013-2014 school year begins, Project SOS offers a few top tips for establishing and maintaining healthy friendships:
- Skip the labels: Placing labels like “best friend” on someone can create unrealistic expectations and undue pressure. It also can alienate other friends who have just as much to offer. Instead, recognize that each true friend you have is special in his or her own way and brings something unique to your relationship.
- Communicate: No friend or friendship is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes, those mistakes hurt, whether intentionally or not. If something about your friend is bothering you, talk it out honestly and forthrightly. This is particularly important in cases of gossip and rumors. Never assume that second-hand information about a friend is true.
- Check yourself: Speaking of “nobody’s perfect” – that means you, too. We all make hurtful mistakes or hasty decisions, especially in times of stress. Whether intentional or not, if you’ve done something that hurt or angered your friend, fess up, do your best to make up, then grow up and move on. Taking responsibility for your actions, sincerely apologizing and asking forgiveness can heal and strengthen your relationship going forward.
- Be true to yourself: This means choosing friends who will be a positive influence and support your goals, and distancing yourself from people who try to pressure you into things that go against your morals and faith. True friends will love you for who you are, not push you to be anyone or anything different.
Need help with friendship troubles? Contact Jacksonville’s Project SOS at 904-296-9950 or connect with us via our Facebook page.