Epic Fireworks/Flickr
Source: Epic Fireworks/Flickr

Growing Friendships blog on Psychology Today recently reached over one million views! I want to thank the readers who have made this possible. It’s a privilege to be able to write for you. I try to make the posts interesting, useful and research-based. I hope you enjoy them. My emphasis is on helping kids and parents cope with feelings and communicate better. To celebrate this milestone, here's a look back at some favorite posts.

5 Most Popular Posts

Here are the five most popular posts. 

1) Imaginary Friends

The post on imaginary friends is fun and intriguing. I tend to be sentimental about children’s imaginations, because they’re just so darn cute! This post shares some fascinating research about imaginary friends. Read this post.

2) Helping Children Who Cry Easily 

After about kindergarten, there’s a social cost for children who cry easily. The answer is not to “toughen up” sensitive children, but to help them learn to cope with their emotions.
Read this post.

3) What Are Social Skills 

We all know that social skills are important, but what exactly are they? This post gives a framework for understanding your child’s social strengths and struggles. Read this post.

4) How Children Make Friends 

This three-part post spells out the key ingredients that help kids make friends. I wish all kids had this information! Read part 1, part 2, part 3.

5) Children's Growing Friendships

This post offers a perspective on the development of children’s friendships at different ages and stages. Knowing what’s typical gives a context for understanding children’s friendship struggles. Read this post.

5 Favorite Posts on Common Children’s Friendship Problems

In my clinical psychology practice, children’s friendship issues come up a lot. These posts describe solutions for some of the most common ones. 

1) Is Your Child Inviting Rejection?

When a child is struggling to make or keep friends, it makes sense to consider whether that child might be doing something to push peers away. This is not blaming the victim. It’s just practical. It can also be empowering for kids to know there’s something they can do to improve their relationships. Read this post.

2) Making Up is Hard to Do…For Kids

Almost all kids experience conflict with a friend at some point. We adults tend to want kids to talk things out. Sometimes that’s a good idea, but here’s what research says about how kids usually resolve conflicts. Read this post.

3) Is It Bullying…Or Ordinary Meanness?

I think the word “bullying” gets thrown around too easily nowadays. Not every disagreement between peers constitutes bullying! Certainly, we’ve all heard horrific cases of breathtakingly cruel bullying. These serious cases require immediate adult intervention. But calling every little conflict “bullying” trivializes these serious instances of peer abuse

Research tells us that meanness is common among kids! Children often experiment with social power, and their empathy isn’t fully developed. Conversations about bullying too often have a saints-and-sinners focus on trying to identify “bad” kids and protect “good” kids from them. A more productive approach is to teach all kids to make kind choices. This post contains a questionnaire that helps kids consider their own less-than-kind actions, so they can make better choices. Read this post.

4) Social Challenges of Children With ADHD

Discussions of ADHD usually focus on the central features of inattention and/or impulsivity, but often the most challenging part of this condition for kids is dealing with friendship problems. This two-part post describes these challenges and explains how parents can help kids with ADHD learn to get along better with peers. Read part 1, part 2.

5) How NOT to Raise a Narcissist

Sadly, the post on how NOT to raise a narcissist is very important in our era of entitlement, when civility and kindness seem to be on the decline. Read this post.

5 Favorite Posts on Parenting

In addition to writing about children’s feelings and friendships, I also like to write about parenting, in general. Here are some of my favorite posts:

1) Preventing Mom Meltdowns and Dad Detonations

Anyone who has logged a large number of hours with children has had the experience of feeling exasperated with them. Kids are cute and often even delightful, but they can also be noisy, messy, and unreasonable. Here are some tips for keeping your cool during those rough moments. Read this post.

2) What's the Hardest Stage of Parenting?

Every age of child-rearing has its challenges. Here’s what research says is the hardest stage, plus some ideas about how to cope. Read this post.

3) Are You a Distracted Parent?

Our electronic gadgets are so compelling! Parents I know, both personally and professionally, sometimes feel guilty about the amount of time they spend on their phones. Personally, I’m not too tempted by my phone (my kids sometimes get annoyed because I forget to check it!), but I often feel like my laptop is an extra appendage. We want to connect with our kids, but gazing adoringly at our children 100% of the time is unrealistic (and unhealthy!). Here’s some research and some tips. Read this post.

4) Soft Criticism

Being a parent involves a delicate balance. We need to love our kids unconditionally, but we also need to teach them what to do and what not to do. This post contains a useful formula I created for getting around the natural tendency to defend against criticism to help kids move forward in a positive way. (Hint: It’s not about sandwiching criticism between praise.)
Read this post.

5) Lifting the Burden of Potential

This post is an excerpt from a book I co-authored with Mark Lowenthal, called Smart Parenting for Smart Kids. It’s the post that has triggered the most letters/emails to me because it strikes a chord of recognition for many people. Surprisingly, the greatest anxiety about performance often surrounds the kids who are most capable. This post discusses how a narrow definition of potential can feel like a burden and make both kids and parents feel afraid of messing up. The antidote is seeing potential, not as some gold ring that our kids have to reach, but as a capacity to learn and grow. This includes growing in ways that matter deeply but are not necessarily impressive, such as learning to temper perfectionism and find joy. Read this post.

Plus, one more…

Finally, if you child’s difficulties seem to be lasting weeks or months, and they’re causing a lot of distress or interfering with day-to-day life, you may want to contact a psychologist or other mental health professional. Here's one more post:

5 Questions to Ask a Child Psychologist

This post offers some questions you can ask to help you find the right psychologist for your child or family. Don't be afraid to interview more than one therapist over the phone to get a feel for how they work. And trust your gut. No one knows your child better than you do. Read this post. 

Are there topics about parenting or children's feelings and friendships that you’d like me to address in future posts? Please let me know by commenting!

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© Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD. Subscribe to monthly NEWSLETTER to be notified about new Growing Friendships posts. 

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, author, and speaker, based in Princeton, NJ (lic. # 35SI00425400). Her books and videos include: Raising Emotionally and Socially Healthy Kids (audio/video series, 70% off), Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, The Unwritten Rules of Friendship, and What About Me? 12 Ways to Get Your Parents' Attention Without Hitting Your Sister (for kids).

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, used with permission
Source: Eileen Kennedy-Moore, used with permission

Growing Friendships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. You’re welcome to link to this post, but please don’t reproduce it without written permission from the author.

Photo credit: “fireworks” by Epic Fireworks/ CC BY 2.0

 

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