During the research phase of writing BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships, I honed in on nine “Friendship Truths.” These truths are simple but easy to forget, especially during times of struggle.
I share these truths in my work and my book because they help normalize kids’ experiences. Whether it’s changing friendships, or conflict and mistakes, these truths help preteens and teens understand that it isn’t just them. Relationships are tricky sometimes.
These truths do not eliminate discomfort or struggle. Instead, they connect us to our shared humanity. They remind us that we are not alone. That we are worthy. And that others are too.
In this series of posts, I’m diving into the nine Friendship Truths from BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends). Click here if you missed the first post about Friendship Truth #1. Here’s Friendship Truth #2.
Friendship Truth #2: Everyone Develops Friendship Skills at a Different Pace
Friendship requires a variety of skills that take time and practice to develop. Effective communication, flexibility, conflict resolution, managing emotions, trustworthiness, speaking up, and listening are just some of the skills kids develop throughout childhood. Social strife is common with such a wide range of skills in every classroom and group.
A Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck, professor of Psychology at Stanford University, introduced the concept of the growth mindset in her best-selling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. A “growth mindset” is when individuals believe their skills and talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. Alternatively, a “fixed mindset” assumes that talents are innate gifts and cannot be changed.
Dweck’s research found that people with a growth mindset tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset. Schools that focused on developing a growth mindset in students showed more academic growth and success. When kids focused on working hard and learning, they did better.
A Growth Mindset for Social Skills
So what if a growth mindset is applied to kids’ social-emotional learning and development? When we emphasize that social skills are learned and improve with practice, it opens the door to personal growth and change. It gives kids room to make mistakes, learn and do things differently the next time.
How can caregivers help kids develop a growth mindset?
Friendship requires various skills, which take time and practice to develop. Nobody’s perfect, and no friendship is perfect either. Friendship changes, misinterpreting behavior, and diverse social skills contribute to struggles and strife during the preteen and teen years. Parents and schools can help kids navigate their social world with a growth mindset by encouraging them to:
- Remember that friendship skills take time and practice
- Mistakes are common and are how we learn
- Stay open to changes and new friendships.
- Avoid labels and making assumptions about people
In Summary: Friendship Truths – Everyone Develops Friendship Skills at a Different Pace
Schools and homes are prime training grounds to help kids develop social-emotional skills. New social dynamics and conflict continuously emerge—and that’s okay. Each provides an opportunity to practice social-emotional skills and manage uncomfortable emotions and situations in healthy ways.
Over time kids develop the social tools needed to live fulfilling lives, such as communicating to solve problems, kindness, managing emotions, flexibility, speaking up, and making new friends. A growth mindset focuses on practicing these skills and allowing for mistakes in the process. Most importantly, a growth mindset helps kids stay open to growth in themselves and others.
In the coming weeks, I’ll dive into BFF or NRF’s Friendship Truth #3. Stay tuned!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jessica Speer is the award-winning author of BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships. Her books engage and entertain readers by combining the stories of preteens and teens with fun activities and practical insights. Her second book, Middle School – Safety Goggles Advised (August 2022) unpacks the weird stuff that peaks in middle school. She has a master’s degree in social sciences and explores tricky topics in ways that connect with kids. Jessica Speer’s monthly BLOG focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Please pass it on if you know someone who might appreciate this content! Click here to follow the blog via email or social media.