Balanced Life: 10 Tips to Help Your Children Handle Social Struggles

06/28/2010 11:44 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011


Today: 10 tips for parents who want to help their children navigate social struggles.

A few days ago, in a post about teasing, I quoted from Michael Thompson's excellent book, Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children.

In the book, Thompson includes a list of 10 rules for parents who want to help their children manage their social lives. He discusses each point at greater length, of course, but I thought the list itself was very helpful.

1. Don't worry so much. Remember that you gave your child a social start in life. [Elsewhere, he reminds parents that we can't spare their children normal social pain; it's part of growing up.]

2. Recognize the crucial difference between friendship and popularity. Friendship is more important. [Popularity is more about status than being well-liked.]

3. Support your children's friendships.

4. Make your child's friends welcome in your home.

5. Be a good friendship role model and teacher.

6. Provide a wide range of friendship and group opportunities.

7. Make friends with the parents of your child's friends (and enemies).

8. Empathize with your child's social pain, but keep it in perspective.

9. Know where your child stands in the group. If your child is in trouble socially, step in to help. If you child is popular or accepted, help him or her be a positive moral leader. Don't act like a middle schooler yourself. Thompson points out that parents often make things worse when they intervene, so don't rush in.

10. Take the long view.

What do you think of this list? Agree, disagree? Anything you'd add?

* One of my more challenging resolutions is to Enjoy the fun of failure, and I loved this post by the excellent Gwen Bell, Mistake mulch: a short guide to making mistakes.

* It's Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:

-- Forward the link to someone you think would be interested

-- Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)

-- Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 45,000 people get it)

-- Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update

-- Watch the one-minute book video

Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.