Disclaimer: Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you purchase this book based on my recommendation I will receive a small payment. All opinions are my own. I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
Most kids will encounter friendship challenges at one point or another. My family is no exception. Moving countries was a big challenge. The girls needed to find a new set of friends amongst groups of children who had already formed friendships. Sometimes they felt different to the children here, they didn’t want to play the same games or they were interested in different things. A year group that is very boy heavy made it hard for one of my girls to form strong friendships and she longed for a best friend.
Even for those who make friends easily, keeping a strong group of friends isn’t an easy task. Children want to fit in but getting along with friends is complicated.
Psychologist Eileen Kennedy Moore and parenting and health writer Christine McLaughlin wrote this book to help children learn the essential skills for building and keeping friendships. Growing Friendships, A Kids Guide to Making and Keeping Friends helps children make sense of their social world through practical examples and humourous cartoons and simple exercises. You could read it section by section or dip into the current issues your child is facing.
My daughter said she enjoyed reading the challenges. She liked that they were presented in cartoon form so that she could read through them quickly but also read the advice about what to do. I totally agree, the book isn’t heavy at all and is presented in a chatty, interactive style and a warm, non-judgmental tone.
We also read the book together with her younger sister. It was a good opportunity for them to talk about the things that happen between friends at school. My youngest beamed with pride as she told me how a friend had wanted to play with her, but another friend had a club that she wanted my daughter to be involved in – they invited the other friend to join and all played together.
The layout and language of the book are particularly child friendly. The book begins by explaining how to greet people and build common interests to build friendships. It then examines reasons people may not want to be friends with you like being silly and not knowing when to stop, showing off or bragging, and always needing to be right. It gives simple practical tips on how to change those behaviours and deal with emotions.
As a parent we often hear stories about kids who are mean – I love these tips for reframing.
The book is full of practical examples like this. There are sections relating to the challenges of larger friendship groups, bullying, and moving beyond conflicts and each one gives children examples of the right things and wrong things to say.
As a parent I see it as a wonderful tool to help discuss the social challenges my children face and give them tools to help.
As a teacher, I think this would be a perfect book to share with children. Teachers will clearly recognise the things we hear children talk about every day and that sometimes make us tear our hair out, this could be a way to stop and discuss issues with the class and a helpful reminder for when those scenarios occur in the future. You could display some of the important messages around the classroom.
I wish I’d had this book when I was a child. It’s not easy to know what to say as a shy kid and to be honest some of the tools in the book are also helpful as an adult.
I love this book and I think it is perfect for any child, whether they are having problems with friendships or not. As much as we all want our kids to have friends, it is equally important that they are good friends. This book helps children see that kindness is the key to friendship.
Growing Friendships is available from 18th July 2017.