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Building Better Relationships with Youth

Building Better Relationships with Youth

A teenage girl sitting in bed and talking to her mother

Navigating the complex webs of relationships can be tough but also super impactful during your youth. As you go through high school, you’re not just learning quadratic equations and historical dates—you’re figuring out the ins and outs of human connection. 

So, let’s talk about why building better relationships is crucial for your mental well-being and for experiencing life’s greatest joys.

Why Do Relationships Matter?

Relationships are not just random chats. They’re the foundation of your whole life. 

In your youth years especially, they’re like the building blocks for picking up people skills, developing empathy, and figuring out who you really are.

The Mental Health Benefits

Building healthy relationships when you’re young isn’t just a nice idea. It’s a big part of keeping your mind healthy.

Having good friends and a supportive community can help you prevent and manage anxiety and depression. Relationships make you feel like you belong and are safe, creating an emotional safety net that’s invaluable to building your confidence.

A Foundation for the Future

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, having strong interpersonal skills is like striking gold. You probably realized how isolating digital-only relationships can be during the lockdowns.

It’s not just about being ‘liked’—it’s all about those genuine connections that can open doors to future job opportunities, cool collaborations, good communication skills, and a solid support network.

An older adult sister sitting on the counter in a kitchen and talking to her younger, teenage sister who is eating breakfast

How Can You Build Lasting Relationships?

Connection takes effort, but it’s always worth it. Here are a few tips about how you can invest in relationships that will endure the tests of time and trials of life.

Be Authentic

At the heart of any good relationship is being real. Just be yourself and support others to do the same. 

Sure, being vulnerable is tough. But sharing that side with someone shows strength. It’s the only way to create relationships built on trust and respect.

Listen & Be Present

Everyone craves being truly heard. And that makes active listening a superpower. It’s not just about the words spoken, but about genuinely trying to understand others. 

When you’re with someone, be really present. Ditch the distractions (your post can wait) and give them your complete attention.

Empathy is Key

Understanding someone else’s feelings is the heart of empathy. It shows you care and that you’re willing to share someone else’s burdens and joys. 

And it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers. It’s okay if you don’t have advice to give—or the friend you’re talking with doesn’t know the perfect next steps. Just knowing that someone hears you and really wants you to succeed, well, that has the power to move mountains.

Shared Experiences Strengthen Bonds

Having shared experiences with your peers can build connections where you feel comfortable sharing without any judgment

The memories you make together, whether it’s just after-school hangouts or going through big life events, are what keep your bonds strong. So, go ahead and create those shared experiences whenever you get the chance!

What Types of Relationships Should You Aim to Foster?

No person is an island, no matter how old you are—and that goes for the youth too. Every relationship brings something special, shaping different parts of our lives.

You might not have every type of relationship at every life stage, and that’s fine. Change is normal. Some bonds last a lifetime, while others leave a lasting impact even after they end. The key is to keep striving for positive connections.

Parent Relationships: Understanding and Boundaries

Your relationship with your parents might not always be smooth sailing, but it’s an incredibly important one. As you grow up, strive for open communication, see things from each other’s view, and set those healthy boundaries

It’s a dynamic that transitions from dependency to equal partnership, playing a crucial role in your growth. 

Friend Relationships: The Power of Peers

Friends play a big role in how you develop. And we’re not just talking about helping each other cram for a test. 

Your friends often get you like no one else, influencing your beliefs, hobbies, and even who you are. Building strong, supportive friendships is about having each other’s backs through the good and bad, and helping each other grow along the way.

Community Relationships: Extending Your Network

Your community, whether it’s your school, sports team, club, or neighborhood, is full of connections waiting to happen. When you get involved, it’s not just about fitting in but also about feeling part of something, taking on responsibilities, and seeing things from different angles.

So, join in! It could be anything. Join with a friend or go solo. Who knows, you might just stumble upon a place where you fit right in.

Need Support Navigating Relationships? Contact ConnecTeen to Talk

Sometimes, relationships get tough, and that’s completely normal. If you need a guide through the challenges, we’re here to talk. ConnecTeen volunteers create a safe place to share your feelings, ask for guidance, and get the help you need to navigate relationships.

Remember, relationships don’t happen overnight. The most important part is showing up, being present, and being willing to invest in the beautiful, complex world of human connection.

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