Best Friends, Worst Enemies

Dr. Michael Thompson Visits The Churchill School and Center
“My daughter’s twelfth-birthday party was a nightmare, a social train wreck. It was, of course, a sleepover…There had been moments …when I wanted to send them all packing instantly. Get out, I wanted to shout. You’re all mean! You’re all horrible.” (Michael Thompson. Best Friends, Worst Enemies)
Does this scenario or one like it sound familiar? Michael Thompson, consultant, author and psychologist specializing in children and families, described his daughter’s birthday party in one of his best-selling books. Thompson recognizes that being a parent means feeling helpless some of the time, and “there is no area in which a parent feels more powerless to make a significant difference than in relation to a child’s social life.” Fortunately, from the day your child is born, you are providing her with the model for building relationships with her peers later on in her life.
During Thompson’s presentation at The Churchill School and Center on January 15, 2019, he offered several tips to help your children manage their social lives:
Don’t worry so much. Remember that you gave your child a sociable start in life.
Recognize the crucial difference between friendship and popularity . Friendship is more important.
  • Be a good friendship role model and teacher.
  • Empathize with your child’s social pain, but keep it in perspective.
  • Make your child’s friends welcome in your home.
  • Make friends with the parents of your child’s friends (and enemies).
  • Be cautious before saying that your child is a victim of bullying. Bullying is defined by Thompson as intentional, chronic, repeated or overwhelming attacks on a child’s body, psyche or sexual identity. Does teasing qualify as bullying?
  • If your child is popular, hold him or her to a high standard of moral leadership.
  • Create community. Be inclusive. Don’t gossip about the social functioning of a class, players or coaches on your child’s teams.
  • Take the long view!
Dr. Jane Gertler
Director of the Office of Teachng and Learning
The Churchill School and Center