by Nadine Briggs & Donna Shea
Age 8+ 142 pages
“Donna Shea, Director of The Peter Pan Center an Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kid are passionate about helping kids make and keep friends. They have spent years working with children who experience mild to moderate social difficulties and understand that social nuances can and should be taught. Parents and kids often need quick social skills advice that is easily understood and even easier to do in the moment. How to Make & Keep Friends provides 500 tips for children to learn how to manage 50 common social challenges in easy to digest top-ten lists. For parents and professionals check out How to Make & Keep Friends: Coaching Children for Social Success”
Introduction for Parents & Educators
“Welcome to How to Make and Keep Friends! Many kids struggle with social nuances which can make it difficult for them to form lasting friendships. Our tips have been successful for children with mild to moderate social challenges.”
Introduction for Kids
“Welcome to our book, How to Make and Keep Friends! We wrote this book for kids because we understand that making and keeping friends can be really hard to do sometimes. We help lots of kids learn how to get better at making and keeping friends, and with this book, we can help you too.”
About the Book
There are four sections in the book, each specializing in one particular area. The first contains tips for normal social situations and the common problems that can occur, including making new friends and figuring out body language and other non-verbal communications. The second section contains tips to help kids enjoy social success, such as knowing the difference between sharing something as opposed to bragging and handling embarrassment, anger, and impulsiveness. Section 3 covers the tough subject of being a good friend. This includes playing fair, playdates, proper etiquette, and even good table manners. The final section has suggestions for handling social challenges such as bullying, jealousy, and knowing when and how to get adult help.
Interestingly, the subjects in each section have suggestions and tips in lists of ten, rather than explaining problems or solutions. The idea is to allow kids and parents to open the book, find the problem, look through the ten suggestions, then go out and immediately use the chosen tip. Number one is not necessarily better than number ten, nor is ten better than one. What works best depends upon your child, and the situation. Most of the tips are great, though some—mostly verbal suggestions are not kid-friendly.
For example, in “How to Greet Others and Enter a Room or Place:” one friend greets another—your child—by saying, “Hello, how are you today?” Not many kids speak like an adult. They will say, “Hi,” or maybe “What’s up?” or “You okay?” but not “Hello, how are you today?” Even if they did, any kid who responds, “I’m fine, thanks, and how are you?” will be met with a funny stare and maybe a laugh. Leave out “and how are you” unless it was Aunt Mildred who asked. Parent’s need to make sure their child still sounds like a kid.
I like that How to Make and Keep Friends is for the parent as much as it is for the child. Under the heading Working Things Out, adults are reminded that when they tell their kids to “just work it out,” their child may not know what to do. Without a parent’s help, a child may end up in worse shape than before. For this reason, I think parents need to read this before or, preferably with, their child. Doing so might help the parent understand their child’s difficulties. Parents need to know when to help and when to step back.
The writing style of Ms. Briggs and Ms. Shea is conversational. A few sentences need a good editor’s pen, but overall this is a well-written guide kids and parents will find easy to read. There are no illustrations. I think a few, maybe at the head of each chapter, would have punched up the text and made the book look more like a guide for kids. And, admittedly, I like illustrations in books for kids. They give the eye a nice break, especially when the subject becomes emotional.
I truly like How to Make and Keep Friends. Kids need somewhere to turn and many of the suggestions are excellent.
“Being impulsive means doing or saying things without stopping to think first.” (tip 1) “When you have strong feelings like excitement or anger, breathe slowly and deeply to calm yourself down, since these are times when you might be impulsive” (tip 10)
Bad Peer Pressure:
“If someone is doing something wrong (like swearing) and wants you to do it too, you have the choice to say no. Remember choice is power.” (tip 3)
“The best thing to do is to not make a big deal—if no one says anything, just be quiet and let it go” (tip 2) “Try to remove yourself from the situation. Take a break, especially if you feel like you might cry.” (tip 6)
The book is dedicated to “the “what” to do rather than the “why” it needs to be done.” Hence, the ten tips for each problem. I am not a fan of “do” without knowing “why.” I never found this to work long term, yet How to Make and Keep Friends, with the tools and suggestions they do give kids, is impressive. Included is a reading reference guide for both kids and parents, a glossary of terms, and five ways to draw sides when choosing sides or deciding who plays first. Adults can incorporate most of the tips and suggestions into their own life. Bullying, making new friends, and not knowing what to do in social situations does not stop once someone reaches the age of 18. Until then, How to Make and Keep Friends will give kids a treasure of social tips and suggestions to guide them through the perilous seas of sticky social situations.
Learn more about How to Make and Keep Friends HERE!
ALSO AVAILABLE FROM BRIGGS & SHEA
HOW TO MAKE & KEEP FRIENDS: TIPS FOR KIDS TO OVERCOME 50 COMMON SOCIAL CHALLENGES. Text copyright © 2011 by Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea. Reproduced by permission of the authors, Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs.