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10 Tips on Navigating Changing Friendships

Free to Be Mindful - Vanessa De Jesus Guzman - SEL Book Talks
SEL Book Talk: Tips on Navigating Changing Friendships

As a former middle school counselor of 14 years I have learned the pattern of middle school friendships. Typically students (who I lovingly call “kids”) come into school very excited with their elementary school friends. Then around October, after meeting new friends from other elementary schools, friendships begin to change. By middle to end of October there are some kids thriving having found many new-made friends, and others with their feelings hurt because they can’t understand why their [former] BFF isn’t spending time with them anymore.

Just in case you don’t spend much time with kids, “BFF” means “Best Friends Forever.”

That is exactly what happened in the book I Lost My BFF: A book about jealousy and rejection within friendships. The main character Sophia was BFF with Camila; they used to do everything together. Until one day when Camila started spending less time with Sophia and more time with Christabel. Sophia’s feelings were hurt, leading her to turn to Mom for advice.

Tips to Navigate Changing Middle School Friendships

  1. Understand Growth. Middle school is a time when everyone is trying on new hats and figuring themselves out. This growth can lead to changes in interests, values and even personalities.

  2. Diversify Friendships. It’s okay to make new friends! It’s actually healthy to have a variety of friends with different interests. This way, if one friendship is changing, there are other friends to spend time with.

  3. Communicate. Open and honest communication is key! If one is feeling hurt, confused or uncertain about a friendship, they should calmly speak to their friend about it instead of keeping their feelings to themselves.

  4. Maintain Respect. Feelings may run high, but friends [even former friends] should always be treated with kindness and respect. Gossip and negative behavior should be avoided at all costs.

  5. Empathy. Sometimes others are going through a lot of things we know nothing about. Trying to understand others’ situations and perspectives can help.

  6. Give Space. Sometimes we just need to figure things out. If someone seems distant, maybe they just need time without feeling pressured. Give them space and take some space.

  7. Be Open to New Friendships. Growing up and making new friends is a part of what middle school is all about! If approached by someone new, give them a chance. We never know what new people or opportunities may bring!

  8. Take Initiative to Speak to New People. It may seem hard to speak to someone new, but all it takes is a bit of practice. Finding common things to talk about - school, teachers, a shared extracurricular activity - can be a great springboard for conversation.

  9. Stay Positive. Changing friendships are a part of life. Staying positive will help attract new friends and will help bring focus on the relationships that bring joy.

  10. Seek Adult Support. It may seem as though adults don’t understand, but the reality is, everyone has experienced changing friendships. Speaking to parents or school counselors can be a great help.

The main character Sophia tried a few of these strategies, some of which didn’t work on the first shot, but eventually other strategies worked. It was a great way to show children that issues aren’t always resolved quickly or the way they wish it to be.

I love this book for many reasons!

  • The way the author shares the main character’s internal talk is super realistic! It really resonates with readers who have experienced similar situations.

  • It’s not a hop, skip and a jump to “happily ever after.” The main character tries a few strategies, and not all of them work! This can help young readers understand that not everything will work on the first try, but to keep trying!

  • I appreciate the diversity in the names used and the illustrations.

  • The Teacher and Counselor Activity Guide is an awesome tool! It has the chapter of the book within the guide, and questions can be used in conversation or actually shared with kids to complete, it is great for reflection and learning!

Thank you to the author, Jennifer Licate, for sharing her brilliant book with me! Jennifer’s I Lost My BFF is a part of a series helping teach social skills and navigating friendships. Check them out below!

Links to Purchase Books:

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I only promote products I’ve used and loved!


Vanessa is a well respected Educator and Nationally Certified Licensed Therapist, Speaker and Podcast Host with 20 years of experience working with children and families. Her insights on mindful living, mental health, and personal growth have been featured on the Today Show, Univision and multiple national publications.

After an 18-year career in education, Vanessa established a New Jersey based private practice - Free to Be Mindful - providing psychotherapy to children and mothers, using a mindful living framework to help find peace of mind and ease of heart.

As the founder of Amiga Moms, Vanessa provides a supportive network and educational in-person and virtual events - including conferences and retreats - to help 21st century mothers become more patient and mindful moms.

Vanessa is a sought after public speaker on mindfulness, self care, mental wellness and social emotional learning, and shares her passion on these topics on the Free to Be Mindful Podcast and her YouTube channel.

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