If you’re looking for ways to help your kids survive the social jungle, then you might want to check out Michele Borba’s book, Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them. This is a great resource to help boost your child’s social competence.
The first thing Borba does is look at why kids are having a friendship crisis. She says, “There’s not just one new development that has changed things overnight, but a gradual erosion of friendship-building conditions and skills.” Borba highlights some of the signs of the decline.
- Who’s got the time? Our kids are too hurried and harried to nurture friendships.
- It’s everyone for himself. Cooperating and looking out for the underdog is out.
- Recess will be cancelled today. Academic achievement now takes precedence over unstructured times when our kids could learn valuable friendship skills.
- All I need is batteries. Electronic distractions have isolated children.
- Double-bolt that door. Although the FBI says that the number of child kidnappings actually has not risen, we teach our kids to fear people automatically.
- How long is your buddy list? Texting and emailing have come to replace face-to-face interaction.
- Didn’t you hear the whistle? Supervised play means there’s no opportunity for kids to have fun without pleasing their parents.
- Pack your bags. With 46 percent of Americans moving at least once this makes it hard for kids to form lasting friendships.
- People suck. Sitcoms celebrate the put-down.
- Who needs manners? Living in this age of incivility, our kids are poorly prepared to develop intimate and empathetic relationships.
Then, Borba identifies the ten WORST things parents can do for their children’s social lives:
- Set a terrible example. Don’t expect your kids to be a good friend unless you are.
- Be a pushy parent. Don’t think you can muscle your kids into friendships that only you care about.
- Act like a micromanaging drill sergeant. Don’t hyper-parent or children won’t feel free to play around you.
- Make your home as sterile as an operating room. Don’t value cleanliness over comfort or kids won’t want to play at your house.
- Act like a brontosaurus. Don’t refuse to change with the times.
- Put on the robe and pick up the gavel. Don’t be so critical as your child acquires friendship skills that you discourage your child from making new friends.
- Stick that nose in the air. Don’t dismiss your child’s friends before appreciating what your child values in them.
- Be your kid’s “bestest” buddy. Don’t worry so much about your kid’s popularity that you lower your standards, making your house the permissive spot in the neighborhood.
- Chuck in that towel. Don’t assume that your child can do it without some guidance from you.
- Live in a little house of horrors. Don’t expect your children to bring friends home to an unhappy place.
So if you’re at a loss when it comes to teasing, bullying, rejection, cliques, breakups, or peer pressure, then let my blogs on Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me be your guide. This month, with Michele Borba’s help, I’ll tackle what’s wrong, why it’s happening, what you can say, and what you can do. For a friend, as Ralph Waldo Emerson defines it, is a person with whom you can think aloud, and your child needs this sincerity matter more than you may realize.