How to Help Teenagers Develop Better Interpersonal Skills

The teenage years are critical in the growing up process. It is a time of dramatic change where teens discover a sense of self worth and expanded cognitive abilities.

As teens mature, relationships with parents and peers change and take on an added dimension and social skills are called upon to form and maintain relationships.

helping teenagers develop interpersonal skillsAdolescence is a time to develop healthy and high quality relationships. Those types of relationships are often responsible for improved academic performance in school, positive psychological health and a positive path to successful relations when the teens become adults.

Lack of quality relationships is associated with negative outcomes such as psychological problems and delinquency issues.

The Lesson and the Practice

Most of a child’s behavior is learned by observation, and their first instructors are parents or a guardian such as grandparents or aunts and uncles. Those first instructors are the trend setters for that child and the observed trends take root and follow the child through their teen years and on to the next level of learned behavior.

Positive interpersonal skills are a byproduct of secure, emotional bonds provided by an adult in the teen’s life. Sometimes it is the parents who establish the bond, or it might come from a relationship with a mentor.

Siblings often provide a test of learned interpersonal skills through healthy and safe sibling rivalry. A little squabbling now and again with brothers and sisters is a good lesson in conflict resolution and the interaction often enhances cognitive development.


Building a Network of Friends

Developing friendships with other teens will promote social skills. Teens will often develop independence, positive mental health and self confidence through friendships and the result will be positive interpersonal skills.

Parents or mentors who work with teens to make good decisions will often find the teen will learn to make joint decisions. Then, with a degree of confidence under their belt, the teen will move on to make good decisions on their own.

Positive peer relationships will encourage better decisions, increase their depth of perspectives and demonstrate what empathy is all about. Positive peer relationships will offset antisocial behavior, lessen emotional distress and discourage aggression.

Parents and mentors with a positive outlook will foster the importance of friendships and choosing friends with a positive outlook while in their teens.

Do Not Overlook Grandparents

Grandparents play a pivotal role in the life of teen. As good as parents can be, grandparents are usually the trestle that bridges the generation gap.

There are times grandparents are a source of influence and support, and as odd as this may sound, provide the family history and ties to the cultural past that gives the teen a sense of place. In a weird mathematical way, that equation helps provide some of the foundation to build interpersonal skills.

Fostering a relationship with grandparents should be a priority with parents in the overall goal to help a teen grow into a compassionate and responsible adult.


Helping teens navigate the teenage years can be a slippery slope when promoting the importance of solid interpersonal skills.

Parents sometimes think their role in their teen’s life is less critical as the teen ages and matures. Studies have shown parental relationships with their children are always pertinent to continue the necessary support as the teens eventually become parents.

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