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3 Steps to Strengthen Your Friendships

Alesia Montgomery - Boys Town National Training

When it comes to your friendships, are you happy?  Do you wish the friends you have would treat you better?  Friends make the good times better and the bad times easier.  Did you know having at least one friend at school means you’re less likely to feel lonely or be the target of someone’s cruelty?  Friends make life better, and they make you feel awesome too!

The best friendships have deeper, more personal connections.  They are built around shared values, experiences, or interests.  These are real friendships that last longer because no one is dominating or controlling the other person.  True friendships are about mutual respect.

Group of Elementary Students

Follow these steps to make and maintain healthy friendships:

  • Do things Together - To be a friend, it’s good to take interest in what others like. When you develop a friendship, sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone and open yourself up to new challenges and experiences.  This does not mean doing things that are illegal or go against your beliefs, values, or family rules.   For example, you may not like to go to basketball games, but your friend has an extra ticket and would love for you to join him.  You may discover that attending basketball games with a friend is great fun!

    Use the social skill of Suggesting an Activity to encourage others to join you in activities you are interested in.  It works by using the following steps:

    Suggesting an Activity
  • Get the other person’s attention
  • Suggest a specific activity or project to engage in
  • Give reasons for your ideas
  • Listen to the other person’s opinion
  • Talk it Out - If a friend says something that really hurt you, would you have the guts to call your friend out on it?  Or would you just blow it off and quietly accept it? When you have a serious problem with a friend, do you pretend it’s no big deal?  Do you speak up for yourself?  Do you know how to appropriately disagree with that friend? Friends sometimes hurt each other.  If you have a friend who is mean or selfish, and you are afraid or unwilling to say anything, do you really have a friendship?  The only way to know is to speak up.  We all have disagreements from time to time, but we can often resolve the problem if we know how to appropriately disagree. Here is a step–by-step approach to doing just that:

    Disagreeing Appropriately
  • Look at the person
  • Use a pleasant voice tone
  • Say I hear what you are saying
  • Tell why you feel differently
  • Give a reason
  • Listen to the other person
  • Be There for Each Other – When someone you know is having a hard time or a bad day, how do you show you care? To be a true friend means you have to show support and concern even when you would rather turn your back and walk away. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say or do.  Sometimes the smallest gestures can make a big difference.  Just listen, show compassion, and stay in touch.  Good friends celebrate each other’s successes.



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