10 Tips for Parents Who Want to Help Their Children Handle Social Struggles.

The Happiness Project Blog Logo

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 ten 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. [Elsewhere, Thompson points out that parents often make things worse when they intervene, so don’t rush in.]
  10. Take the long view.

From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.