New Research Shows the Power of a Best Friend

Friendships are important at any stage in a person's life, but new research suggests that close friendships are especially important for adolescents from low-income backgrounds.

A new study, which was published in The British Journal of Psychology, found that having one best friend can positively help children who grow up in poor neighborhoods and tend to face more challenging circumstances.

Researchers surveyed 409 students between the ages of 11 and 19 from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. Each participant completed an assessment about his or her closest friendship and the way in which they dealt with problems and unfavorable experiences.

The study found that the students' closest friendships helped them cope with challenges. Friends were able to offer emotional support as well as strategize and reframe problems in a more positive way.

Previous research on young people and their resilience to challenges was focused on the support coming from the individual's family, but friendships are a major factor too, said study leader Rebecca Graber M.D., a psychologist from the University of Sussex, in a press release. "Boys' and girls' best friendships are an important source of meaning and strength in the face of substantial adversity."

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

Finding new friends can be scary. Try these ideas to help your child develop new friendships.

Image: Best friends photo via Shutterstock

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