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Making Friends

Making Friends

Teen: Dear Dr. Expert,

I'm in Grade 7 and am starting high school this year. I am so nervous! I've always been a little shy, but it's never really mattered before because I've always gone to the same school as all my friends I've grown up with. But this summer we moved and I'm going to a totally new school and I won't know anyone. I don't even know where to begin? I have no idea how to make new friends!

Lonely in Lethbridge
Dr. Expert: Dear Lonely in Lethbridge,

Making friends is a skill that takes practice. Think about the other skills you have: playing the piano, driving, or swimming. You didn't just get thrown in the deep end of the pool knowing how to swim! You had to learn. And just like swimming, making friends is a skill that can be learned.

Think about what part of making friends makes you nervous. Maybe it's walking up to new people, saying hello, or starting a conversation. Once you know what parts are hard you can start working on them. For example, if you want to work on introducing yourself to someone new, you can write down what you want to say and then practice saying it. Or think of some icebreakers that sound natural (for example, "Where did you get that purse?" "What was the homework assignment?" "What's your favourite song on your iPod this week?) Pretend that you're an actor rehearsing a play. Start by practicing it in front of a mirror. Then ask someone you trust if you can practice it with him or her before trying it out for real!

Another good way to make friends is to pick activities that interest you and join a team or group at school, like band or basketball. When you are surrounded by people who share common interests, it's even easier to make friends because you already have something to talk about. Good luck!

For more help and ideas, check out the MindShift app.