Building Friendship Skills and Overcoming a Negative Reputation
Friendships can be an integral part of our daily lives that we sometimes take for granted. Yet they can make the difference between a lonely and a richly rewarding life.
Friendships start on a basis of common interests: What are you going to do together when you get together? In order to have friends, you have to have interests to share with others, and you must not let competition interfere with friendships. Your first task when you meet someone new whom you like is to search for common ground interests. In order to do this and to get to know someone better, you have to be able to share a conversation. You moderate personal disclosure, starting off with superficial exchanges of information and testing the waters with slightly intimate disclosures. If these disclosures are reciprocated, you proceed to more intimate disclosures. In all likelihood, you have learned these skills during your childhood.
Friendship is a child's first experience with true love: putting someone on at least an equal footing with themselves. They see that concern for another, having a good time, and taking care of them add to the joy of the relationship. Children who have difficulty making and keeping friends can commit many errors along this path. I have learned much about these errors, how to help children with them and have devoted a chapter to each of these in this book. Children who are liked and accepted by others know how to try to join a game politely (Chapter Seven), how to be a good sport (Chapter Eight), how to handle teasing without teasing back (Chapter Twenty-One), and how to be a gracious host on a play date (Chapter Thirteen). Children who break these social rules have few or no friends and develop a negative reputation.
The best way to help the child with a negative reputation is to teach the child skills that will make him or her a better playmate. Much of this book has been devoted to changing your child's reputation with skills to make her more fun to play with. In order to be successful in teaching these skills, you should try the steps in the chapters as she meets new children who don't know her. Even if your child has developed good social skills, it will take a while for the other children who know her to catch on. Take any pressure off your child to be accepted by the children who are avoiding her until you teach her the skills she needs to have. If your child stops making social errors, eventually the other children will forget, and her negative reputation will die down.
Learning is a lifelong pursuit. I hope you have learned something useful from this book and that I have helped you help your child embark on a path of intimate friendships. I have learned much from the people I have helped. I encourage you to write to me, care of the publisher, telling me what you have learned.
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