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Help Support Kids Develop Better Friendships
"Be kind to other people and they will treat you like you want."
Andy, age six
I'm getting a lot of flack about friends lately. Kids are complaining they
don't have any. Parents are concerned their children don't have enough or have
too many disagreements with the ones they do have. Everyone is asking for help.
All this reminds me of seven-year-old Freddie. Every day after school he
complained: "The girls are bossy." "The boys pick on me." True, but underneath
Freddie wanted his peers to do everything his way. He wouldn't play by the
rules. He needed to always win - the game, the sticker for the day, his
teacher's attention - and this alienated the other kids. Friendships vanished.
Friendships are important for children and teens. Kids who have them feel good
about themselves, are more confident, do better in school, and are more likely
to grow into well-adjusted adults. Solitude can lead to isolation, depression,
poor health and discipline problems. A child's behavior is a common reason for
friendship issues. Bossy, disruptive, or self-centered kids annoy their
classmates. It's not fun to play with those who don't share or follow rules, or
who explode when things don't go their way. Shyness and insecurity can also
limit a child's friendship circle - as can being different from others, or
changes such as a new class or school. Whatever the cause, friendship worries
signal a need for extra support and understanding.
The Nine Tools can help get to the bottom of the problem and open options. Your
child's imagination is ready to help. Freddie's certainly was. All we needed to
do was ask. It took awhile, but he learned that when you're nice to others,
they are kinder to you. These six tips can help you support your child develop
Be a Caring Coach: Make sure you're on the same team, even when you think your
child is wrong. It's easy to want to correct your child when you see things so
clearly from an adult perspective. But this is not about blame; it's about
creating a new beginning. Stay out of the right/wrong discussion; it will only
cause power struggles. Instead, let your child know you believe he can make
(more, better) friends. When he feels you on his side, he'll be more open to
imagination suggestions - and change.
Imagine Simplicity: Invite him to share his peer problem with you. Depending on
his age, guide him to explore his feelings with simple or sophisticated
emotional language. Then ask him to imagine how he'd like it to be. Encourage
him to draw or write about present and future possibilities. Once he has a
vision you can help him take the steps to reach his goal. Whatever kids
visualize and mentally rehearse, they are more likely to actualize in life.
Call on Man's Best Friend: Animal assistance - from an imaginary Animal Friend
- dog, cat, jaguar, or ladybug - can provide wise advice and fun Gifts that
shed light on the friend clash or teach him how to create better friendships.
Like Freddie, whose imaginary dog Pugg gave him a silver star medallion to
wear: "When you blow on the star, it gives you power to speak nicely."
Consider Different Scenarios: Discuss how to make amends with problem friends
or reach out to new ones. Role-play together or write a practice script. How
would he like his "friendship show" to go? What does the final act look like?
Re-frame the Games: When a child is too competitive, others tire of playing
with him. As your child hones his friendship skills, promote cooperation by
changing focus. Asking "Who came in first?" or "What was the score?"
inadvertently fuels competition. Instead, inquire whether he had fun, or if the
team worked well together. You don't have to ignore who won; just don't make it
top priority; he'll learn that games can be more than just winning.
List of Friends: Imagining and making a list of friends is a handy skill. When
one pal can't play - whether he's unavailable or just doesn't want to - other
choices exist. It's a good idea to remember this on the playground and in
planning after school or weekend activities.
* * * * *
Your child's imagination is a great partner for solving friendship challenges.
It gives a clear picture of her struggle and a safe place to practice healthier
responses. Remember, it's the quality of the friendship, not the quantity, that
matters. Not what kind of friends she has, but what kind of friend she is.
Please share your child's friendship stories.... DrReznick@...
*Adapted from The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress
and Anxiety into Joy and Success.
Learn more about Freddie's story and how you can help children develop better
friendships and bring more joy into their lives.
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About Dr. Charlotte Reznick
Charlotte Reznick PhD specializes in helping children and adolescents develop
the emotional skills necessary for a happy and successful life. She is a
licensed educational psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of
Psychology at UCLA. Dr. Charlotte is the creator of Imagery For Kids^TM:
Breakthrough for Learning, Creativity, and Empowerment and is the author/
producer of several therapeutic CDs for children, teens, and parents. An
international workshop leader on the healing power of children's imagination,
she maintains a private practice in Los Angeles, California. Visit
THE POWER OF YOUR CHILD'S IMAGINATION
Go here to join in.....
UPCOMING EVENTS 2011
"Transforming Your Child's Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success"
5:00-6:00 pm (Pacific)
8:00-9:00 pm (East)
Host Iris Benrubi
Workshop at Conference
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Hilton San Diego - Mission Bay
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
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(Link to conference)
Workshop at Conference
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3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Los Angeles, CA
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Want your child to develop self-love and learn self-healing techniques for
Then bring Dr Charlotte to your school or organization. Learn how the Nine
Tools can transform stress and anxiety into joy and succes for the lives of the
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or 818/634-6696 or
Dr. Charlotte directly
Dr. Reznick can help; call (310) 889-7859 for more information.
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