Advice for tweens and teens about everyday issues
Our beloved teacher and mentor, Louise Palanker, is back to offer advice again, and this time the kids want to know what to do when your good friend leaves school (very common in HK!) and how to deal with friends who are always being negative. If your kids are facing similar problems, we think she’s got some great wisdom to share!
Editor’s note: If you or your tween/teen have a question you’d like answered, please contact us at [email protected]
I have a good friend who is a grade ahead of me. She is really beautiful and I’m afraid that at the end of the year when she goes to high school she isn’t going to remember me or she will stop being my friend. – Devin
I don’t think that is going to happen. You two are growing up together. Expect her life to change dramatically when she enters high school and give her space for that to happen. Be there when she needs you. Make new friends of your own and continue to make plans with her.
Don’t panic about something that has not yet happened. Have you heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? That is when you are so worried that something is going to occur you sort of force it to happen. How would you do that? Well, you would forever whimper, “You’re going to forget about me when you get to high school,” and then once school begins and she gets a little busy, you would blow up her phone with texts screaming, “I TOLD YOU THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!” That would compel her to avoid getting back to you and, thereby, getting further yelled at.
Instead, be understanding and happy to hear from her when she does call or text. If she knows that contacting you will be a positive experience, she will do it. Yes, life changes as we grow older, but you cannot alter life and time to any huge extent. They are going to do their thing. The only constant is that everything keeps changing. You can decide to be a storm or a port in the storm. The storm tends to blow people further away. The port is what people come home to.
How do I stop associating myself with someone negative? I have this friend and she is so negative. When we hang out all she does is complain and talk about people. She’s very clingy to me as well. She texts me too much and I just can’t anymore. We go to the same school and we have the same break in between classes. What do I do? I can’t always go home during my break. She claims to be my best friend as well. She’s just very annoying and she talks too much drama and I don’t like the vibe I get from her. How do I go about this situation? – Charlene
As you grow up your view of the world expands. Small children make what I call friends of convenience. These are kids who are at your school, in your neighbourhood or the children of your parents’ friends. They are geographically available and so you play with them. As you get older your circle widens. You achieve more independence and acquire a greater ability to see outside of your immediate vicinity while taking a closer look inside and examining what you seek in a friend and perhaps concluding that your “best friend” may not be the best possible friend for you.
I could advise you to steer this person away from speaking negatively about others and to endeavour to help her understand that you would rather have more positive interactions with her, but honestly, I don’t think she is going to change very much very soon. It sounds like you are ready to move on. I advise you to practice what I call the slow fade. This is where you join new clubs and take part in activities that do not include her. You stop answering every text. Answer every other text. Don’t answer right away. Make it a one or two word, polite response. Never engage in any of her negative comments. Change the subject. Don’t let yourself get caught saying something you don’t even believe. It will get back to the person who is being dissed. Sit with other people. Get involved in other conversations. You can introduce this friend to new people, too. You don’t have to exclude her while including others.
This will seem very strained and awkward at first but soon you two will drift apart. That just happens sometimes. As long as you are kind and respectful you get to seek out the friends who better suit your personality.