Ep. 1, Naomi, age 7: Friendship ends over small thing | Different points of view
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SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTIC
Adults, please use your smartphone's memo function or an audio app to record your child's question. Hold the phone close to your child's mouth to make sure the recording is clear. Have your child state:
1) their FIRST NAME,
2) their AGE, and
3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)
Submit the audio file at DrFriendtastic.com/podcast or email it to DrF@EileenKennedyMoore.com. (Obviously, this is not psychotherapy, and it’s not for emergency situations.)
Think About It Questions:
- Why do you think kids sometimes say, "I don't want to be your friend anymore!"?
- What can you do if a friend is mad at you?
- How do you handle it when you feel mad at a friend?
- Why is it sometimes hard for kids to apologize (say they're sorry)? Have you ever apologized to a friend?
- Have you ever made up with a friend after an argument? How did you do that? What are some good ways to make up with a friend?
Welcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.
Here’s today’s question:
Hi, my name is Naomi, and my age is seven. I have a question about friends: Why do friends sometimes part when only one little thing bad happens?
Hi, Naomi. From your question, I’m guessing maybe you did something small that your friend didn’t like, and then, all of a sudden, she said she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I bet that feels pretty unfair to you!
Your question points to a very interesting and important fact about friendships, which is that two people can be in the exact same situation but see it very differently.
For you, whatever happened was just one small thing. But it seems your friend saw it as something big enough to end a friendship. Or maybe she saw it as –I don’t know–like the twelfth thing that had happened like this. For you, those other events weren’t connected, but maybe for her, they were.
Learning to understand different points of view is a big part of any friendship. Two different ideas can be true at the same time: Whatever happened was no big deal to you AND it mattered to your friend.
We don’t have to decide who is right with a capital R. That’s not important or helpful. We do need to be able to imagine and respond kindly to our FRIEND’S’ point of view.
So, what can you do in this situation?
Well, if you and your friend are very upset, it’s probably a good idea to take a little time to cool off. But then, go back to your friend.
You may want to apologize. I’m sure you wouldn’t do something on purpose to upset your friend, so why not say you’re sorry?
Maybe that’s enough. You get it now–she doesn’t like whatever it is. OK. Good to know. We can move on.
Or maybe you’re still not clear on why she was upset, so you might want to find out more about her point of view. You could say, “It seems like that bothered you a lot. How come?”
Maybe she’ll tell you something you didn’t know, like that something else upsetting happened to her that day or that something you thought was funny actually makes her feel uncomfortable. That’s useful information.
Even if it’s no big deal to you, because you care about your friend, it’s important to try to understand how she sees things. That’s a kind thing to do. We’re all constantly learning how to be better friends to the people we care about.
This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.