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Posted on Nov 15, 2010

A Recent Read: Best Friends, Worst Enemies

November 4, 2010

As parents, our children’s social lives can be a source of both happiness and worry. Does my child have enough friends, the right friends, a best friend? If there is a social conflict, should I talk to the kids, to the parents, or to the school? Seeking answers to these and other questions about peer relations, Gillispie’s teachers read this summer Dr. Michael Thompson and Catherine O’Neill Grace’s book Best Friends, Worst Enemies:  Understanding the Social Lives of Children. The book offers much insightful information to teachers and parents about helping our youngsters develop healthy peer relationships from preschool through twelfth grade. Dr. Thompson reminds us that the secure attachment of a child to his/her parents in early life informs each person’s interactions with individuals and groups throughout life. Although the entire book is worth reading, Dr. Thompson summarizes his advice to parents in the final chapter. Thompson shares: –Don’t worry so much. Remember that you gave [are giving] your child a sociable start in life. –Recognize the crucial difference between friendship and popularity. Friendship is more important. –Support children’s friendships. –Make your child’s friends welcome in your home. –Be a good friendship role model and teacher. –Provide a wide range of friendship and group opportunities. –Make friends with the parents of your child’s friends (and enemies). –Empathize with your child’s social pain, but keep it in perspective. When listening to your child’s stories of the day, “Don’t interview for pain, don’t nurture resentments, and don’t hold on to ancient history. Kids don’t. Why should you?” –Know where your child stands in the group. If your child is in trouble socially, step in to help. If your child is popular or accepted, help him or her be a positive moral leader. Don’t act like a middle schooler yourself. –Take the long view. “The vast majority of children cope with the rigors of their social life with humor, resilience, and wisdom.” Enjoy your privilege as their parents to share the journey. Please let us know what you think about the relevance of this topic to your child’s development; the book raises many important issues and the conversation is ongoing. Susan Adams Grades 5 and 6 Math Teacher
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