Parent's Guide: Kids and Friendship (cont.)

BORBA:
Unfortunately, you're going to spend a couple of years where your words will be heard as stone, because cliques in seventh and eighth grade are hugely important. That's the bottom line to what matters to a child.

What will work is a few little talks about what are good friends. For instance, talking about your friends. Real friends are loyal, they stick up for one another, they don't back stab and you can count on them. You may want to rent and watch the movie Mean Girls with your daughter and help her see your healthy relationships with your friends. Talk about why they are good friends. And finally, try to help her find one friend who is a true friend outside the clique. It may be someone at a different school or down the street. But once she experiences true friendship, she'll start to get the picture.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What role, if any, should a parent have in reaching out for friendships with our children's peers' parents? Will this help our child fit in, or will it not make a difference?

BORBA:
It helps. You can't be too pushy, but as a mom myself, of three, I will say it has made a huge difference. Some of my best friends, I've chosen as my best friends, because they have kids I know my kids would enjoy and be friends with and they've actually become my children's best friends.

It helps to be a little sneakier, not as pushy, and don't let them know this is what you're trying to do. Remember, older kids choose friends with similar values and interests. And you can help them find those friends by pushing them in that direction; gently pushing.

"Friends do matter and parents, you make a huge difference."

MEMBER QUESTION:
We are moving and my kids are worrying about losing old friends and making new ones. Any advice?

BORBA:
First, tell them they can continue with their old relationships, and encourage those. Call once a week on the phone. Instant message -- even visit once a year or more if they live closer. Encourage those old friendships.

Second, make new friends. There's a chapter in Nobody Likes Me that will give you almost 30 new ideas, but here's a few:

  • Drive your child around the neighborhood. Look for other kids.
  • Visit the school ahead of time so your child can see how they dress, what they need to fit in.
  • Go to the park and recreation department; find activities in the new community your child can join.
  • Look for other parents who have children your age. Introduce yourself.
  • Buy a new address book and keep it by the phone just for brand-new friends and phone numbers in the new area.
  • Enroll your child as soon as possible in a camp or band -- something that he likes to do so he can find one new friend in that area.

It takes time. It can be painful, but you can make a big difference in helping your child make new friends.

MODERATOR:
Dr. Borba, we are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

BORBA:
Friends do matter and parents, you make a huge difference. My book, Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, the Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them , has dozens and dozens of ideas, plus 25 essential friendship skills you can teach your child to make new friends and get along better. My web site (www.behaviormakeovers.com) will give you more information if you need it. Good luck, and hang in there!

MODERATOR:
Our thanks to Michele Borba, EdD, for joining us today. And thank you, members, for your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them. For more information, please read Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them .



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