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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends


Author: Natalie Madorsky Elman and Eileen Kennedy-Moore

From the Book Jacket: "Nobody likes me" is a complaint that parents hear all too often, and few utterances make them feel more helpless. What can a parent do for a child who feels isolated, rejected, or out of sync with his or her peers?

This practical and compassionate handbook draws on the authors' experience working with thousands of children to offer you as a parent (or teacher or caregiver) tools you can use - including practical activities, games, and exercises - to identify a child's social strengths and to sharpen any child's social skills. 

Nearly every child has trouble with social relationships in some way, at some time. Some children feel awkward in groups. Some have trouble resolving arguments. Some stick out in such a way that they become natural targets for bullies. And some seem virtually incapable of making friends. No matter what your child's situation - whether he or she is  a born leader or a constant complainer, a wallflower or an unwitting aggressor, a poor sport or a perfectionist - you'll recognize your child's struggles in the case studies in this book. You'll discover why certain children don't "get" particular social conventions, and you'll learn simple strategies for increasing your child's awareness of the unspoken underpinnings of social interactions - knowledge that is essential to building, sustaining, and repairing relationships.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: INVALUABLE. I might just leave it at that and call this review done. Okay, but seriously The Unwritten Rules of Friendship is a wonderful resource. I've been using it for years and it is so HELPFUL to my work and how I view children. I read all kinds of parenting, counseling, and self-help literature aimed at kids so I know when I've got a good one when I just can't put it down and all I want to do is learn more and more about children. Sigh. It's a beautiful thing. I work with kids everyday on friendship. It's not something we talk about in the first week of school and then let it go. It's an ever evolving process. Relationships are tricky business and kids need all the help we can give them. HOWEVER, there is a way to do it so we don't become "helicopter" educators and parents. That's the number one reason I like this book. The strategies don't require me to "fix" all the problems. But I can at least help students navigate their way through the elementary years with an extremely good understanding of all the issues that accompany friendship. I've developed solid strategies and It's helped me develop language to use around friendship struggles. 

Quote on the cover says, "This book is saturated with really good advice for parents and, at least indirectly, for children themselves."  Really good advice is probably an understatement. Try awesome advice. Also, it's advice that makes sense. They don't throw a bunch of psycho babble at you. The authors have dedicated chapters to different types of children based on personality traits which is genius: The Vulnerable Child; The Intimidating Child; The Different Drummer; The Shy Child; The Short-Fused Child; The Little Adult; The Sensitive Soul; The Born Leader; and The Pessimistic Child. Each of those kids exists in some shape or form in my school. Over the years, I've received phone calls from frustrated parents or heard comments from teachers about how so and so can't make friends....this book offers hope. I will continue to recommend The Unwritten Rules of Friendship and look forward to re-reading it again this year as a refresher. Another thought - this might also be a great book club read for educators.


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