Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD

Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic is a podcast for children about making and keeping friends. Each 5-minute episode features an audio recording of a question about friendship from a kid plus an answer from Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, (also known as Dr. Friendtastic,) who is an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ. To submit a question, go to https://DrFriendtastic.com/podcast.

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Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic – Ep. 18, Kai, Age 9: Friends call him bossy
May 20 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic – Ep. 18, Kai, Age 9: Friends call him bossy
Ep. 18 – Kai, Age 9: Friends call him bossy | Building great leadership skillsKai wonders what to do when his friends say he’s being bossy. How can he get his ideas across? Scroll down for discussion questions, a transcript, and how to submit your child's question.Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER, DrFriendtastic.substack.com, to get episodes sent to your email plus Q&A posts for parents.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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 (or another name),2) their AGE, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhat are some ways that friendship groups can be more complicated than individual friendships?Have you ever tried to change friendship groups? Why did you want to make the change? How did it go?Why does Dr. Friendtastic recommend belonging to more than one friendship group?Why do you think kids sometimes try to hide or change something about themselves to fit in? How is that different from belonging?TRANSCRIPTHi, there! 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 Kai, and I am 9 years old and my question is what do you do if your friends say you’re bossy Hi, Kai! Thanks for your question! My guess is that you have a lot of qualities of a great leader! I bet you have good ideas, a lot of energy, and you’re probably good at communicating what you want–what your vision is. Those are very important abilities for a leader to have!Where you’re getting stuck is with the reaction from your friends. We need to figure that part out because even though you have good ideas and you’re putting them out there, your friends aren’t responding positively. Now maybe your friends were feeling tired and grumpy that day. If that’s the case, you can just step over that rough spot. I’m sure it bothered you to be called bossy, but if it was just one bad moment, let it go.On the other hand, if you’ve heard the word “bossy” tossed at you by more than one friend or on more than one day, it might be useful to think about how you’re communicating your good ideas, so you can make it easier for your friends to hear them.One tricky thing is that most kids have their parents and their grandparents and their teachers and their coaches and their babysitters all telling them what to do. With all those grown-ups bossing them around, kids really don’t like it when they feel like another kid is telling them what to do. A good leader doesn’t just give out orders. A good leader also knows how to listen, ask questions, and get input from others. A good leader notices the positive and makes sure that everyone in the group feels like they matter. A good leader thinks about “we” not just “I.”So, if you have an idea, you could ask rather than tell, maybe say something like, “How about if we…?” or “What do you think about…?” instead of “You have to…!” or “You’re wrong!”And if someone calls you bossy, maybe that could be your signal to ask, “What would you like to do?” Listen carefully to the response. You could even try summarizing what the other person says, just so they know you understand. You could say, “So, you want to do it this way because…” Once you really understand what other people want, you’re in a better place to explain what you want or come up with a compromise. A compromise means doing partly what you want and partly what someone else wants, so neither of you gets exactly what you want, but you both get something. And sometimes, not always, but sometimes, you might even choose to give in and do what the other person wants–even though your idea is better–just because you care about them. We all want to do things our way, but including other people’s ideas can sometimes make things even better or at least more fun.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 17, Sophie, Age 10: Balancing a best friend and another friend
May 13 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 17, Sophie, Age 10: Balancing a best friend and another friend
Ep. 17 – Sophie, Age 10: Balancing a best friend and another friend | Appreciating different flavors of friendsSophie is deciding whether to sit on the bus with her close friend or a new friend. Scroll down for discussion questions, a transcript, and how to submit your child's question.Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER, DrFriendtastic.substack.com, to get episodes sent to your email plus Q&A posts for parents.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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 (or another name),2) their AGE, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhat are some ways that friendship groups can be more complicated than individual friendships?Have you ever tried to change friendship groups? Why did you want to make the change? How did it go?Why does Dr. Friendtastic recommend belonging to more than one friendship group?Why do you think kids sometimes try to hide or change something about themselves to fit in? How is that different from belonging?TRANSCRIPTWelcome! 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 Sophie, and I am 10 years old. what do you do for if a classmate wants to sit with you on the bus, but you really want to sit with your best friend?Hi, Sophie! That’s a tricky question! Thanks for sending it in.On the one hand, you like your close friend a lot, so of course you want to spend as much time with her as possible.Also, you two might have a routine of sitting together on the bus. You wouldn’t want your close friend to feel dumped because she was counting on sitting with you, but you suddenly sat with someone else.On the flip side, this other friend is doing something kind: she’s telling you she likes you and wants to spend time with you. I’m sure you don’t want to hurt her feelings by responding to her kindness with rejection.There’s no one correct answer in this situation. The important thing is to try to be kind and respectful to both friends and to yourself. Communicating clearly can help you do that.If the bus seats are big enough, it might be a good idea to have the second friend join you and your close friend, so all three of you sit together. That way no one feels left out, but, of course, it wouldn’t be the same as just you and your close friend sitting together. Also, the bus driver might not allow three-to-a-seat.Another option is to thank the second friend for her kind invitation and then explain to her that you’ve already promised to sit with your close friend (if that’s true).A good way to soften a no is to tell someone, “I can’t do that, but I CAN do this.” So you could say, “I can’t sit with you on the bus in the morning, but I can sit with you on the afternoon ride” or “I can sit with you at lunch” or “I can get together with you after school.” The “I CAN do this” part shows that you care about the other friend, even if you’re not doing exactly what she wants.Still another option is to talk with your close friend about sometimes mixing things up and sitting with other kids.Why would you do that? Why not just stick with your closest friend all the time?Think about your favorite dinner. Let’s say it’s spaghetti. Let’s say you love eating spaghetti. Why don’t you eat spaghetti for every single meal? Well, as much as you love spaghetti, there are probably other meals you like, too, so you don’t want to limit yourself to only eating spaghetti. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something else.Eating other foods doesn’t take away from your love of spaghetti. In fact, having other meals lets you not only enjoy those meals but also look forward to having spaghetti again.It’s the same with friends. Different friends bring different flavors into our lives. And that’s a good thing.There’s one more layer to this problem: You might have a tiny bit of a fear that if YOU don’t sit with your close friend, someone else will, and maybe you could end up being replaced as a friend. Ouch! That would really hurt!But just because you can imagine something doesn’t make it real or likely.How long is your bus ride? My guess is it’s about 10 or 20 minutes. You like sitting with your close friend for that ride, but is the bus ride the only thing that’s propping up your friendship?Probably not. I bet you and your close friend have a lot in common. and do lots of fun things together, and try to support each other…Whatever you decide to do on the bus ride is not going to make or break your close friendship. You don’t have to grab onto this friend and hold her tightly to keep her from getting away. Trust that your friendship is strong enough to handle a bit of time apart if that’s what you choose.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 16, Sam, Age 13: Joining a new group of friends
May 6 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 16, Sam, Age 13: Joining a new group of friends
Ep. 16 – Sam, Age 13: Joining a new group of friends | Understanding the difference between fitting in and belongingSam wants to know how he can tell if he’s become friends with a new group. Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER, DrFriendtastic.substack.com, to get episodes sent to your email plus Q&A posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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 (or another name),2) their AGE, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhat are some ways that friendship groups can be more complicated than individual friendships?Have you ever tried to change friendship groups? Why did you want to make the change? How did it go?Why does Dr. Friendtastic recommend belonging to more than one friendship group?Why do you think kids sometimes try to hide or change something about themselves to fit in? How is that different from belonging?TRANSCRIPTHi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s listen to today’s question:Hi, Dr. Fantastic. I'm Sam, and I'm 13 years old I've been hanging around a new group of people, and I was just wondering how I know if I became their friend?Hi, Sam! Thanks for sending in your question! First I want to say, good for you for being brave enough to reach out to a new group of people! That’s an important way to build friendships.Being part of a friend group can multiply our fun! But groups can be more complicated than individual friendships. You’re probably not going to feel equally close to every single person in a group. And that’s okay! You can have fun with people even if they’re not close friends. Groups can also change as people move in or out for various reasons. A group might also divide or combine with other groups.Sometimes kids belong to more than one group. In fact, I recommend that! You can think of different groups as reflecting different aspects of who you are. Maybe you have a lunch table group, and a swim team group, and a family friends group… Being part of different groups also gives you more social options. So, back to your question, how do you know if you’re friends with a new group? Well, one important clue is how they act toward you. Do they seem happy to see you? Do they often include you when they make plans? Remember it takes time and effort to build friendships. So especially if you’re joining a group that already existed, be patient. You probably won’t be instantly in the thick of the group. But deepening your friendships, showing people you like them, and getting to know more people in the group by doing fun things with them could help you become closer to the group.There’s another important issue with friendship groups that I want you to think about: Brene Brown points out the difference between “fitting in” and “belonging.” When we’re focused on fitting in, we feel like we have to change ourselves in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, is about feeling known and valued for who we really are. Understanding this difference between fitting in and belonging can help you make wise choices about who you spend your time with.Here are some questions that can help you figure out whether a group is a good fit for you:- How do you feel when you’re with them?- If you were upset about something, how would they react?- Can you relax around them, or do you feel like you have to be careful of what you say or do?- Do you like who you are when you’re with them?Finding a good friendship group takes time, effort, and courage, but gaining a sense of genuine belonging is worth it.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 15, Evie, Age 9: What is a close friend?
Apr 29 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 15, Evie, Age 9: What is a close friend?
Ep. 15 – Evie, Age 9: What is a close friend? | Valuing close friends and other friendsEvie wonders how to tell if she has a close friend.Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER, DrFriendtastic.substack.com, to get episodes sent to your email plus Q&A posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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 (or another name),2) their AGE, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhy do you think it’s important to enjoy casual friends as well as close friends?Can you think of someone who is not a close friend but still makes your life more enjoyable? Who is that, and how do they add to your life?Can you think of someone who started out as a casual friend and became a close friend of yours over time? How did that happen? How about the reverse? Have you ever known someone who used to be a close friend of yours and then you grew apart? What happened?What do you think Dr. Friendtastic meant when she said, “The best way to get closeness is to give it”?TRANSCRIPTHi! 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:I’m Evie. I’m 9, and my question is: How do you know if you're close with someone or not?Hi, Evie! Thanks for sending in your question. It raises a very interesting topic, which is: What do we mean by closeness in a friendship?When I think about closeness, or intimacy, I think about being “special” to another person. I think about sharing our private thoughts and feelings, and having a sense of being understood, cared for, appreciated, and even loved.  In our most intimate friendships, we can feel like we have a soul mate. We only get about three of those in our whole lives, and I’m completely making up that number. But my point is, that kind of deep intimacy is rare. That’s what makes it special.If you think about friendships on a staircase of increasing intimacy, a soulmate would be at the top of the staircase. At the bottom of the staircase, the first step might be a bus stop friend. This could be someone who you see regularly and say hi to. You might chat a bit, but you don’t know each other that well. A step or two above that might be a math class friend. This could be someone you like and sit next to and even help each other with homework sometimes. A few steps above that might be a soccer-team friend. This could be someone you enjoy playing with and you cheer each other on, celebrating the victories together and comforting each other when the game doesn’t go well. You have that connection from running and sweating together and pursuing your shared goals of improving your skills and winning as a team.And so on. And so on. There are so many different kinds of friends! And they can all be good!Each level of the friendship intimacy staircase matters because these friends enrich our lives. Math class is easier and more fun if we have a buddy to share it with! Maybe those friendships on the lower steps will deepen over time, as you share more and get to know each other better, or maybe they’ll stay right where they are. And that’s absolutely fine. We can enjoy and appreciate all levels of friendship closeness, whether or not we happen to have a soulmate at that time.So, back to your question: How do you know if you’re close with someone or not? I wouldn’t think of it as an either/or: Either I’m close to that person, or I’m not. Instead, focus on the ways you are or would like to be close to someone. What do you like to do together? What do you know about each other? How do you show each other you care?And remember, the best way to get closeness is to give it.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 14, Rowan, Age 12: Feels guilty, wants to make up with a friend
Apr 22 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 14, Rowan, Age 12: Feels guilty, wants to make up with a friend
Ep. 14 – Rowan, Age 12: Feels guilty, wants to make up with a friend | How to apologize well________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER, DrFriendtastic.substack.com, to get episodes sent to your email plus Q&A posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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 (or another name),2) their AGE, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childHave you ever felt guilty about something you did (or didn’t do) to a friend? How did you handle that? Were you able to make up with the friend?Why do you think some kids have a hard time apologizing?Think about a time that someone apologized to you. Do you think they were genuinely sorry? How could you tell?Dr. Friendtastic says that guilt can be a useful emotion, even though it’s uncomfortable. Do you agree? Why or why not?TRANSCRIPTHi, there! 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 Rowan, and I'm 12 years old. My question is: Sometimes I can be mean to my best friend. I feel bad after. What's the best way to make it up to him?Hi, Rowan. I’m so glad you asked this question!We all make mistakes sometimes with our friends. So figuring out how to move beyond those mistakes is very important for helping friendships last.That bad feeling you have after you’ve done something that hurts someone is called “guilt.” Guilt is that pinch of conscience that says, “Ooh! Shouldn’t have done that!” Guilt is an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s useful. It helps us recognize when we’ve made a mistake, and it guides us to move forward in kinder ways. The fact that you felt guilty after being mean to your friend tells me you care about him, and you want to do better by him from now on. That’s a great place to start working things out!Often the fastest way to patch things up with a friend is to apologize. Sometimes kids have trouble apologizing because they think it means admitting that they’re a terrible person, and they’ll always be terrible with nothing good or likable about them at all, ever. That’s just not true. A sincere apology doesn’t say, “I’m terrible!” It says, “I care about you!”So, how do you apologize? Well, just saying, “Sorr-ee-ee!” isn’t going to help. Apologies only matter if you mean them! A good way to apologize is to say, “I’m sorry for…” Start with the word “I” then say you’re sorry, then say the specific action or lack of action you regret.“I’m sorry for whatever” doesn’t sound sincere.“I’m sorry you’re upset” also doesn’t cut it because it’s not mentioning your part in causing the upset.“I’m sorry for calling you that name...” Now we’re getting somewhere! Here’s another tip: don’t add the word “but” after you say you’re sorry because that erases the apology. For example, “I’m sorry for calling you that name, but you always call me names, and you also borrowed my hat and never gave it back!” Ugh, that apology was completely erased by everything after the “but.”Now we can’t stop there! It’s not enough just to say the words of an apology. We have to back it up with actions to show we mean it! What could you DO to make things right or make it up to your friend? If something is broken, maybe you could fix it or replace it. If you said something untrue about your friend, maybe you could tell everyone the truth.If there’s nothing you can do right now to fix things, tell your friend your plan for how you’re going to handle things differently in the future. You could say, “From now on, I’m going to be extra careful to…” or “The next time that situation comes up, I’ll be sure to…” Another possibility for putting your apology into action is to do something special to show your friend how much he means to you. Depending on the situation, maybe you could do a favor for him or give him a small gift or plan an extra fun get-together with just the two of you. Having fun together is a good way to repair a friendship.There’s one more step that would be helpful, and that’s to think about what led up to your mistake. It’s important for you to take an honest look at what you were thinking or what was happening that set the stage for your mistake. This helps you be ready to do better next time. For instance, maybe you were trying to be funny and ignored that your friend wasn’t enjoying your humor. You could recognize that and promise yourself you’re going to listen the first time when your friend says stop or maybe just stay away from a sensitive topic. Or, maybe you were kind of showing off to try to look cool or impress other people. If you realize that, you can remind yourself that being loyal to a good friend is more important than impressing a crowd and that putting someone else down doesn’t lift you up. Then promise yourself you’re going to stick up for your buddy and have his back from now on.Good friends try to learn from their mistakes. This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 13, Mara, Age 9: Friend doesn’t want her to have other friends
Apr 15 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 13, Mara, Age 9: Friend doesn’t want her to have other friends
Ep. 13 – Mara, Age 9: Friend doesn’t want her to have other friends. | Dealing with an Octopus Friend________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER, DrFriendtastic.substack.com, to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhy do you think it’s important to speak up if you hear someone say something mean about your friend? What would you do if you heard someone say something mean about a kid you don’t know well? What would you do if the mean comments were about a kid you know but don’t like?What, if anything, have you learned at school about race and racism? What have you learned about those topics from adult family members?Do you think it matters whether someone said a racist comment on purpose, trying to be hurtful, versus saying it without realizing the comment is hurtful? Why or why not?How do you know when it’s important to talk to an adult about mean or racist comments versus handling the situation yourself?TRANSCRIPTWelcome, I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s listen to today’s question:Hi, my name is Mara, I’m 9 years old, and my question is: What do we do when a friend wants to keep me all to themselves? Thank you Hi, Mara, that’s a very important question. Thanks for sending it in! Your friend is being what I call an “Octopus Friend.” She’s squeezing you so tightly that it makes you want to get away. Now, we always want to try to imagine things from the other person’s point of view because that helps us to make wise and kind choices. Why do you think your friend wants to keep you all to herself? My guess is that she’s scared of losing you as a friend. Maybe it’s hard for her to make friends, and she really doesn’t have other options of people to play with. That would make the idea of losing you very scary to her. She doesn’t want to be all alone. I can understand that!Maybe there’ve been some changes in your relationship that make her feel less confident about your friendship.Maybe the two of you are doing different activities, so you have less in common, or you’ve been extra busy, so you haven’t spent as much time together as you used to. Maybe you’ve made some new friends, and she’s feeling sad and left behind.Here’s something that happens often in friendships: people sometimes do things, because they’re scared, that bring about exactly what they’re scared of. So, in this case, your friend is probably sensing that you want to move away from her, so she clings more tightly to you, but that makes you want to move away more, which makes her want to cling more, and so on.So, what should you do? It might be tempting to yell at her and say, “Go away! You’re annoying! Leave me alone!” It’s understandable that you would want space if your friend is clinging tightly, but expressing your feelings in that way would be very hurtful. Assuming you still want to be friends with her–just not squished by her–one option could be to include her when you play with other kids. That lets you build your other friendships without hurting her. It also might make your friend feel like she has more friends, which could make her less scared about losing you.Another possibility is to talk to your friend and tell her how much you like her AND that you sometimes want to do things with other kids. If you do this, be gentle and thoughtful. Think about how you’d want to be treated in her situation, and try not to leave her stuck all by herself. You could say, “I really like you, and our friendship means a lot to me, but sometimes I want to play soccer at recess, and I know you don’t like soccer. How about if on Tuesdays, I play soccer and you play four-square, which I don’t like, and we play together on the other days?” If you go with some kind of splitting your time option, be sure to be extra kind, fun, and friendly when you’re together with this friend, so she knows you really do like her.Still another possibility is to focus on your other friendships when she’s not around. At recess, when everyone is together, it makes sense that your friend would feel hurt if you say, “I don’t want to play with you; I want to play with them!” But on the weekends or after school, you could easily get together with other kids without that being an in-your-face rejection of your friend.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 12, Adrian, Age 8: Kid bullies him at recess
Apr 1 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 12, Adrian, Age 8: Kid bullies him at recess
Ep. 12 – Adrian, Age 8: Kid bullies him at recess. | Knowing when to get adult help________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents.Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhy do you think it’s important to speak up if you hear someone say something mean about your friend? What would you do if you heard someone say something mean about a kid you don’t know well? What would you do if the mean comments were about a kid you know but don’t like?What, if anything, have you learned at school about race and racism? What have you learned about those topics from adult family members?Do you think it matters whether someone said a racist comment on purpose, trying to be hurtful, versus saying it without realizing the comment is hurtful? Why or why not?How do you know when it’s important to talk to an adult about mean or racist comments versus handling the situation yourself?TRANSCRIPTHi, there, 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’s Adrian, and I am 8 years old. Every time I go out for recess there is another boy that bullies me. I have asked him to stop, but he doesn't. What should I do? Hi, Adrian. I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with this. It’s upsetting to be picked on by somebody, especially when it happens again and again!One thing that’s important to understand is that if you’ve asked someone to stop two times, and they’re still not listening, they’re probably not going to stop. That means your goal has to shift from trying to change what he does to trying to take care of yourself. Now, I bet you’re thinking, “But what he’s doing is wrong! He should stop!” I agree, he should stop doing whatever mean thing he’s doing…but he’s not. I don’t want you to be stuck getting picked on every day, so let’s think about what else you can do, given that asking this kid to stop hasn’t worked. The first thing you need to figure out is whether what this kid is doing is true bullying or just ordinary meanness. Bullying involves someone being mean, on purpose, to a certain person, usually a bunch of times, but sometimes one especially mean action can count, AND, this is important, there’s a power difference between the kid doing the bullying and the kid getting picked on. In other words, the kid doing the bullying is bigger, stronger, tougher, or more socially powerful than the kid getting picked on, or there’s a group of kids picking on one kid. Would you say that this boy who’s bothering you is more powerful than you? If there’s no power difference, then it’s not bullying; it’s just ordinary meanness. This matters because if it’s bullying, the power difference means you probably need to get an adult involved. If you decide to tell a grown-up, you don’t have to announce, “I’m telling!” just find a quiet moment to tell an adult in charge what’s happening.  But if it’s just ordinary meanness, with no power difference, I’m sure you don’t like it, but you can probably handle the situation without an adult stepping in. Of course, you can always tell your parents or other adults who love you what’s happening. They can help you think things through, but they don’t need to step in to fix things for you. You can deal with ordinary meanness.So, what could you do? Well, that’s hard to answer without knowing more about what’s happening, but one possibility is just to stay away from this kid. You could also decide to hang out near an adult or stay near friends. That makes you less of a target for the kid who’s picking on you because he probably won’t want to do the mean stuff where others can see.  One thing you definitely don’t want to do is be mean back to that kid. It’s tempting, I know, to try to get even, but that will just make the meanness grow.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 11, Violet, age 8: Kids say mean things about a friend’s skin color
Mar 25 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 11, Violet, age 8: Kids say mean things about a friend’s skin color
Ep. 11 – Violet, Age 8: Kids say mean things about a friend’s skin color | Speaking up for a friend________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents.Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhy do you think it’s important to speak up if you hear someone say something mean about your friend? What would you do if you heard someone say something mean about a kid you don’t know well? What would you do if the mean comments were about a kid you know but don’t like?What, if anything, have you learned at school about race and racism? What have you learned about those topics from adult family members?Do you think it matters whether someone said a racist comment on purpose, trying to be hurtful, versus saying it without realizing the comment is hurtful? Why or why not?How do you know when it’s important to talk to an adult about mean or racist comments versus handling the situation yourself?TRANSCRIPTWelcome, 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 Violet. I'm 8 years old, and my question is, I have friends with different skin color, why do my other friends bully and tease them?Hi, Violet. Thanks for your question. Racism means treating someone unfairly because of their skin color or background. White kids can often avoid thinking about race, but for kids of color, that’s generally not an option.The answer to why some people are mean to others who have a different skin color is complicated. It has to do with racial history, power, unfair laws and policies, ignorance, and people being either unable or unwilling to try to understand someone else’s experience or perspective. Kids say mean things about someone’s race mostly because they’ve heard others make those remarks. Some kids try to raise themselves up by putting others down. Some kids think it makes them cool to say things they know they shouldn’t. You know neither of those things is right. And some kids don’t know any better and don’t realize their words are hurtful. Although the causes of racism are complicated, what’s not complicated is what to do when you hear someone say mean things about your friend. Whether the mean comments are about race or any other quality or difference, you need to speak up for your friend. If you say or do nothing, that sends the message that you’re ok with the mean comments.  Now, how you speak up is going to depend on the situation. If the kids making the mean comments made a mistake and didn’t realize their words were hurtful, you can help them learn. Be kind but firm. You might say, “I know you’re trying to be funny, but that’s a hurtful thing to say. I don’t think it’s funny at all,” or “That sounds like a put-down. I don’t like it when you say things like that about my friend,” or “How would you feel if someone asked you that question?” The idea here is not to call these other friends out, but to call them in and help them understand better what is or isn’t okay to say and why. If the kids making the mean comments were trying to be mean, then you need to be more forceful with your words, to stand up for your friend. You could say, “That’s not true!” or “Quit saying mean things about my friend!” or even “That’s a racist thing to say.” If your friend walks away, go with her, so she knows she has your support. If your friend is just standing there, looking uncomfortable, you could say, “Come on. Let’s get out of here. I’ll keep you company.” Another kind of speaking up to consider is telling a grown-up what’s going on. If the situation is very upsetting for your friend and especially if it keeps happening, getting an adult involved could help. You could offer to go with your friend if she wants to tell, or you could offer to report it yourself. If you do end up speaking up about the mean comments, don’t expect your friend to say you’re great just for doing what’s right. You’re not saving her; you’re standing by her and supporting her. That’s what good friends do. This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 10, Isaac, age 7.5: Friend is disrespectful
Mar 18 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 10, Isaac, age 7.5: Friend is disrespectful
Ep. 10, Isaac, age 7.5: Friend is disrespectful | Speaking up for yourself in kind waysIsaac wonders what to do when another kid treats him and his toys in disrespectful ways. Does that mean the friendship is over?________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents.Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childEveryone makes mistakes sometimes. How do you know when your friend’s mistake is something you need to forgive or work through and when it means the end of your friendship?Think of a time when you needed to explain to a friend what you were thinking or feeling. What did you say? How did the friend react? Why are “I” statements a powerful way to deal with friendship problems? What makes them more effective than a “You” statement? (Hint: How do you think a friend would respond if you talked about a problem by saying “I want…” versus “You always…”?)Why do you think it’s sometimes hard for kids to tell friends about what they think, feel, or want? How could NOT telling friends about your thoughts and feelings hurt a friendship? Can you think of a situation when NOT telling a friend what you think or feel might be the kind thing to do? For example, if you don’t like your friend’s haircut or outfit, do you need to tell your friend or is it better to keep that opinion to yourself? TRANSCRIPTHi, 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:Hello, my name is Isaac. I’m seven-and-a-half years old. How do you handle a situation when you don't want to play with somebody because they don't respect you or your toys?Hi, Isaac, I’m so glad you asked this question because I think it’s something a lot of kids wonder about. If someone is not respecting you or your toys, it’s absolutely understandable that you wouldn’t want to play with that kid! But before you completely write him off, I wonder if it might make sense to see if there’s a way to make things work. Especially if this kid can sometimes be fun and kind, it might be worth trying to get along.Now, I want to be clear about something: working things out doesn’t mean you should put up with being treated in a disrespectful way. That wouldn’t bring you closer, it would just make you dislike this kid more and more, and then you might do something disrespectful to him! And then he’d be mad at you, so he might do something disrespectful back, and the problem would get even bigger!You didn’t mention what the kid did that you found disrespectful. Maybe it’s something you could prevent by changing the situation. For example, if he tends to be too rough with one of your toys, maybe you could put that toy away when you know he’s going to be around or before he comes over. Or maybe only play outside with him or only play some games but not other games with him. It might be useful to try talking to this kid. He can’t know how you feel unless you tell him. He might not realize how upset you are about what he’s doing. You’re assuming he did whatever he did because he doesn’t respect you or your toys, but maybe that’s not true. Maybe he didn’t know or just made a mistake.You could try using an “I” statement–that’s “I” like me, not “eye” like eyeball–and ask for what you want. This is a very powerful way to manage friendship problems. So, maybe you could try saying something like, “I spent a lot of time arranging my card collection just how I like it. Please keep the cards in the order I put them” or “I like my remote-control car a lot, and I don’t want it to get broken. Please be gentle with it and keep it away from the walls.” It works better if you tell the other kid what you WANT him to do, rather than what he shouldn’t do. “Please don’t be a jerk” is not useful communication.He may respond with an excuse like “I was just trying to be funny!” or “It was an accident.” That’s okay, just repeat your point so he knows you mean it. You could say, “I know. I’m asking you to be careful with my stuff from now on.”You could also decide you just don’t like this kid, and you don’t want to play with him. That’s your choice, but if he’s around a lot–in your class or in your neighborhood–it may be important to try to work things out so you can be around him without feeling disrespected.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 9, Ava, age 9: Told she can't play
Mar 11 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 9, Ava, age 9: Told she can't play
Ep 9 – Ava, age 9: Told she can’t play | Friendly actions in public versus private settings.________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents.Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childWhy do you think Ava’s friends wanted to play only with each other? Why does Dr. Friendtastic think it matters whether they are in a private or public setting?Have you ever had someone tell you that you couldn’t play? What did you do?What do you think of the rule: “You can’t say anyone can’t play”? Do you think it would help kids be kinder and include others? Why or why not?Are there any situations where you think it’s okay not to include someone? What would you do if a kid was being mean or trying to wreck your game?TRANSCRIPTHi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s hear today’s question:I’m Ava, and I’m 9. I have two friends in my class who do everything together. Last week, when I tried to join their game at recess, they told me to go play with my other friends. What should I do when this happens?Hi, Ava. Ouch! It never feels good to hear, “We don’t want to play with you!”I think it was unkind of the two friends to exclude you at recess! It’s true that some people are closer friends than others, but recess is a public setting–meaning there are lots of people around. The time for private playing is in a private setting–like one of their homes. They could have a play date with just the two of them at one of their homes–no harm done, But in a situation where lots of people are around, insisting on being with just one other person doesn’t make sense.The problem is, we can’t control what other people do. So, the issue we need to figure out is not what they should have done differently. Instead, we need to focus on, what are you going to do in this situation, when two of your friends only want to play with each other?It may be that this is a sometimes not always thing. If the two friends are usually happy to include you and only sometimes exclude you, it may be worth watching before you approach them. If they’re already playing with other people, or they just seem more relaxed and open, go ahead and try to play with them. On the other hand, if they’re huddling close and whispering, they’re probably not open to including you, so don’t bother approaching them. Just go find someone else to play with.You might be wondering whether you should say something when these two friends insist on playing only with each other. If your school has a rule that “You can’t say anyone can’t play,” it might be useful to remind them of that. If they’re hogging some play equipment, you might want to say, “I’d like a turn.” You could also tell them, “That was a mean thing to say” then walk away. If they care about their friendship with you, that might make them think about what they’re doing.Unfortunately, you can’t make people want to play with you. So if they’re not being kind to you, your best bet is probably to find someone else to hang out with.There’s one more thing that I hope you’ll do: Remember this. Remember what it feels like to be excluded and promise yourself that you’re not going to treat anyone this way. When someone approaches you and wants to play, tell them, “Sure!” That’s the kind thing to do.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 8, Blake, age 11: Excluded by friends
Mar 4 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 8, Blake, age 11: Excluded by friends
Episode 8 – Blake, Age 11: Excluded by friends | On the edge of a friendship group?________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents.Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Submit the question 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 to discuss with your childHave you ever felt left out of your group of friends? What happened? How did you handle it?What are some unhurtful reasons why kids might get together with some of their friends in a group but not all of them?Excluding just one kid from a group get-together is likely to hurt that kid’s feelings. If you like that kid, what are some ways you could help that kid feel less hurt? If you don’t like that kid, what are some kinder ways to handle that?Why do you think it’s not a good idea to yell at your friends if they get together without you?What are some fun ideas of things you could invite a group of friends to do with you?TRANSCRIPTWelcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s listen to today’s question.Hi, Dr. Friendtastic. My name is Blake, and I'm 11 years old. My question about friendship is: When your group of friends doesn't invite include you in something, what should you do?Hi, Blake, thanks for sending in your question. Knowing that your friends got together without you could make anyone feel hurt and angry. It definitely doesn’t feel good to be left out!I have a question for you: How do your friends treat you when you’re together? That’s a very important thing to think about to help you figure out what their getting together without you might mean.If your friends seem happy to see you, and they’re usually kind to you, then the fact that they got together without you might mean absolutely nothing. Can you think of some unhurtful reasons why they might have done this? Maybe it was a last-minute thing. Maybe they live close together and just popped over, or they were together at some event and just continued hanging out afterward. Maybe they had to get together for a school project. Maybe they like to do a certain activity or have a certain interest that you don’t share, and they just got together to do that. Maybe they didn’t realize you would want to be included in what they were doing.All of these scenarios would mean that the get-together has nothing to do with how they feel about you. In that case, you could either say, “Wow, that sounds fun!” and leave it at that, or “Wow, that sounds fun! Next time, please invite me. I’d love to do that with you!”Another possibility is that your friends like you, but some of your friends are closer to each other than they are to you. It may be that they see you more on the edge of the friendship group, rather than in the center. That happens. Maybe you’re fairly new to this group or the other kids might have more in common. You can’t do anything to make their friendships less close. But you might be able to build up your closeness with them and become more of a central part of the group. Try inviting the whole group to do something fun with you. Being the kid who has good ideas of fun things to do can be a great role to have.You could also decide just to accept that you’re friends with these kids but not close friends. That’s fine. You can enjoy their company when you’re together but maybe look elsewhere for close friendship.The other possibility, which is probably the one you’re worried about, is that getting together without you might mean they’re mad at you, or they don’t like you as much anymore. If that’s the case, you’d probably see signs of trouble in the friendships when you’re together. It might be worth apologizing–if you know what’s wrong–or talking with one person to try to understand the problem. You could say, “I’ve noticed we haven’t been hanging out much lately. What’s going on?”Whatever the reason for them leaving you out, the one thing you don’t want to do is yell at your friends for getting together without you. Our friends are free to get together with whoever they want, and yelling at them definitely won’t make them want to hang out more with you. This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 7, Emma, age 11: Friend is a poor sport
Feb 25 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 7, Emma, age 11: Friend is a poor sport
Ep. 7 – Emma, age 11: Friend is a poor sport | Choosing how to respond to a frustrating friend________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email.Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Email the audio file to DrF@EileenKennedyMoore.com. I’ll answer as many questions as I can. (Obviously, this is not psychotherapy, and it’s not for emergency situations.)THINK ABOUT IT QUESTIONS to discuss with your child- Why do you think kids sometimes have trouble handling winning and losing? What have you found useful to comfort yourself when you lose a game?- Have you ever had the experience of being the “worst” player in a game? How did you feel? What did you do?- Do you have a friend who has a habit you find annoying? How have you handled that?- Has anyone ever told you that something you do is annoying or frustrating? What happened? How did you respond?- Why do you think a one-on-one conversation about a problem is likely to go better than a whole group confronting someone about what they’re doing wrong?TRANSCRIPTHi, there! 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, I’m Emma, and I’m 11 years old, When my friends and I are playing tag or a game like that, one of my friends always quits the game when it's their turn to be it or be the tagger. When we choose someone else to be the tagger, she rejoins the game, and it's so frustrating! If I was an emoji when this happens, I'd be the frustrated one.Hi, Emma, thanks for your question! Clearly, your friend is not being a good sport: She likes to play tag with all of you, but she bows out when it’s her turn to be “it.” That sounds very frustrating! I wonder why it’s so uncomfortable for your friend to be “it”. This may be one of those situations where we’re not going to be able to solve the problem unless we understand your friend’s point of view. At a neutral time, when it’s just the two of you, so she doesn’t feel ganged up on, you could try saying to your friend, “I’ve noticed you really hate being the tagger when we play tag. How come?” Make sure your tone is curious, not critical. You’re not scolding or arguing; you’re just trying to understand what she’s thinking.Is your friend the slowest runner in your group? It may be that she’s afraid if she becomes the tagger she won’t be able to catch any of the rest of you, and she’ll be stuck as the tagger. If that’s the case, you might be able to solve the problem by adjusting the rules of the game. Maybe you could make a rule that the tagger can ask for a helper if they’re feeling tired or frustrated.Another possibility is to create an extra way to stop being the tagger, besides catching someone. Maybe  the tagger could get done with their turn by touching four specific things on the playground. You can all decide together what those four things are. Trying to understand your friend’s concerns, and adjusting the rules to address those, could make it easier for your friend to handle being the tagger. You could also decide to play a different game when she’s around to avoid the problem.There’s another option for solving this: you could decide just to accept that this is the way your friend is right now. Quitting a game of tag as soon as you’re “it” is not the right way to play the game. But a lot of kids have trouble learning to handle winning and losing. Maybe your friend just needs some growing-up time. If your friend is usually a nice kid but just has this one annoying habit of quitting when she’s “it,” you probably don’t want to end the friendship over that. We all have our quirks and bad habits.If asking about her point of view and trying to solve the problem doesn’t help, it might be wise to accept that, right now, your friend can’t handle being “it.” I’m not saying this is right or fair, but maybe it just is. You could choose to be furious about it, or you could decide to shrug and think to yourself, “Oh, well. No big deal, It is what it is. She’ll grow up eventually,” and then just keep the game going! Accepting things we don’t like isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s the kind thing to do.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 6, Jayden, age 9: Wondering why kids bully
Feb 18 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 6, Jayden, age 9: Wondering why kids bully
Episode 6 – Jayden, Age 9: Wondering why kids bully | Empathy blind spots________Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents.THINK ABOUT IT QUESTIONS- Have you ever been bullied or seen someone get bullied? Has anyone ever accused you of bullying them? What happened?- There are lots of different kinds of bullying: physical (such as hitting or kicking), verbal (such as yelling at someone or calling them mean names), relational (such as excluding someone or spreading rumors about them), and cyberbullying (putting mean comments or photos online). Which do you things is worst and why?  - Why do you think kids often don’t speak up when they see bullying? Why do they sometimes not want to tell an adult about bullying? - Sometimes friends get mad at each other and say or do mean things. Do you think that’s bullying? How can you tell the difference between an argument and bullying?- Does your school do anything to try to stop bullying? Do you think those efforts are helpful? Why or why not?SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)Email the audio file to DrF@EileenKennedyMoore.com. I’ll answer as many questions as I can. (Obviously, this is not psychotherapy, and it’s not for emergency situations.)TRANSCRIPTWelcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s listen to today’s questionMy name is Jayden, and I'm 9 years old, and my question is why do kids bully other kids?Hi Jayden, that’s a very interesting and important question–one that a lot of people have wondered about, including a lot of scientists.The short answer to your question about why kids bully is: because they can. Kids who bully are bigger, tougher, stronger, or more popular than the kids they target. And, their meanness works for them somehow, Maybe it makes them feel powerful or maybe they think it makes other kids respect or fear them.Bullying tends to happen when adults don’t see it. Other kids may be afraid to speak up when they see bullying because they don’t want to get bullied themselves. But when nobody says anything, or when kids laugh or even join in on the bullying, that sends the message that bullying is OK. It may surprise you to hear that a lot of kids who bully are also bullied themselves, either at home or by other kids. They may have trouble managing their temper, or they may believe they have to defend themselves because other people are against them. But sometimes kids who bully are the “cool” kids. They may be smart and popular and even well-liked by teachers. These kids can turn on and off the meanness to suit their needs, and they don’t mind hurting other people to get what they want. The main cause of bullying is what I call “empathy blind spots.” Empathy blind spots happen when children decide that certain people's feelings don't “count.” So. they might think, “She’s weird” or “He’s annoying” or “Nobody likes them,” and they believe that makes it okay to be mean to those kids.I’m sure you know that that’s not true. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. Everyone deserves to feel safe.If you’re being bullied, tell a grown-up you trust. They can help you figure out ways to deal with it. You may also want to stay close to friends or just stand near an adult so you’re less of a target in situations where the bullying tends to happen.If you see someone being bullied, try to be an upstander, not a bystander. If you don’t want to say something directly to the kid doing the bullying, you could quietly tell an adult what’s happening or make a point of being extra kind to the kid getting bullied. Scientists have found that bullying is less common in groups where kids look out for each other.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a 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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 5, Edith, age 8: Friend doesn’t do what she wants
Feb 11 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 5, Edith, age 8: Friend doesn’t do what she wants
Ep. 5, Edith, age 8: Friend doesn't do what she wants | Watch out for "shoulds"--------Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) 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- What is the “danger of shoulds”? How can “shoulds” hurt a friendship?- Can you think of a time when a friend did something you didn’t like, but you were able to accept it and move on? Why is that a useful thing to be able to do?- Have you ever had a friend get mad at you because you did something they didn’t like? How did you and your friend handle it?- Sometimes it’s important just to accept it when a friend doesn’t do what we want, and sometimes it’s important to talk to the friend about what happened and explain what you want from now on and why it matters to you. How can you tell when to accept and when to speak up? TRANSCRIPTHi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s hear today’s question:Hi, my name is Edith, and I'm 8 years old. my friend grabbed this like, it was this little spinny thing that I wanted, and I said, “Can I have it after you?” He was like yeah, so I said okay and then this girl, who’s really really like not nice, and so she went up and after we were done spinning, then he gave it to the girl instead of me. How do I fix this problem? Hi, Edith. Thanks for sending in your question. If I understand it correctly, you’re mad at your friend because you TOLD him you wanted the spinny thing when he was done, but instead he gave it to another kid who you don’t even like.Maybe you’re thinking, “A real friend, a loyal friend should do what I want, not what someone else wants.” I can understand that. We all want our friends to be on our side in life.I think, though. that we need to be careful about the danger of SHOULDS, especially when it comes to friends.If you think to yourself, “My friend SHOULD do what I want!” you’re boxing yourself in and telling yourself, “Things have to be a certain way!” But what happens when your friend doesn’t do exactly what you want? Does that mean you’re not friends anymore?Yikes! I hope not.You can soften your shoulds in your mind by turning them into “I’d prefer.” “I’d prefer” means you’d like it better if. So “I’d prefer if my friend gave me the spinny thing next” means “You’d like it better if he gave it to you–but you can absolutely handle it if things don’t go exactly how you like them best.Maybe you got a turn with the spinny thing a little later, after the other kid,  or maybe you didn’t get a turn at all and you just went to lunch and went on and had a good day.When you turn shoulds into “I’d prefer” in your mind, you give yourself room to accept whatever is happening, even if it’s not perfect, and just move on.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and look on the podcast page to see how to submit your question. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 4, Thomas, age 13: One friend feels left out
Feb 4 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 4, Thomas, age 13: One friend feels left out
Ep. 4, Thomas, age 13: One friend feels left out | Dealing with a friendship threesome--------Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) 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 it might be easier to have a group of four friends rather than three friends?- Have you ever felt left out of a small group? How did you handle it?- If you thought two of your friends were excluding you, you’d probably feel hurt and angry. You might be tempted to yell at your friends and call them mean. Why is that not a smart or kind thing to do? How would your friends be likely to respond if you did that?- Which do you like best: getting together with just one friend or a group of friends? Why?TRANSCRIPTWelcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s listen to today’s question:Hi, I’m Thomas, I'm 13, and I have two best friends, but sometimes one of us feels left out. Do you have any advice for small friend groups?Hi, Thomas, thanks for sharing your question. This is something I hear about a lot from kids. Friendship threesomes can be so much fun–think of Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione–but they’re complicated.If you picture the friendship as a triangle, with each of you at one of the corners, and the lines connecting you, it’s hard to keep every single side exactly the same at every single moment.- If two of you are on the same sports team and the other isn’t, that friend is going to feel left out.- If two of you are in the same class, and the other isn’t, that kid is going to feel left out.- If two of you live close to each other and the other doesn’t, you guessed it, that kid is going to feel left out.Now, these situations aren’t anybody’s fault. Nobody’s doing anything wrong. But you can see how they could make one side of the triangle, one connection between two friends, stronger than the others.The fact that you understand this, that you’re thinking about how your friends feel is great! It means you can take steps to strengthen the friendship.If you sense that one of your buddies is feeling left out, make an extra effort to show that you like him and value his friendship. That might mean chatting at school, doing something kind for him, or planning a get-together either with just the two of you or all three.Think about what connects the three of you. What do you enjoy doing together? Having fun together strengthens your friendship.Now, what if YOU’RE the kid who’s feeling left out? That’s hard. What you don’t want to do is be mean to your other friends because you’re feeling hurt and angry. That’s not going to help the friendship.You can also do some extra reaching out to show your buddies that you like being with them, and they matter to you.Try to remind yourself that when your friends get together without you, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything about how they feel about you.Even in the most difficult situation where your friends like each other more than they like you, they can still like you and want to be your friend. Don’t throw that away.If it’s a good friendship, if your buddies are usually kind to you, you need to trust that your friends like you, even when you’re not with them. That’s part of being a good friend.There’s one other strategy that can be useful with a friendship threesome, and that’s to expand the triangle. Work together, all of you, to add a fourth or even a fifth friend to your group. That tends to ease the tension in a friendship threesome, and it makes it less likely that one person is going to feel left out all alone.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 go to the podcast tab to see how to submit your question. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 3, Noelle, age 10: Kid tries to wreck game
Jan 28 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 3, Noelle, age 10: Kid tries to wreck game
Ep. 3, Noelle, age 10: Kid tries to wreck game | Be curious about what others think or want.--------Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) 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 is it usually important to try to get along with people, even if you don’t like them?- Some kids think it’s funny if other kids get mad and yell at them. What do you think is the best way to deal with these kids?- Trying to annoy kids is not a good way to join a game. What’s a friendlier way to join in?- How do you decide when to go to a teacher or other adult about a problem with another kid and when to try to handle it yourself?TRANSCRIPTHello! 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 Noelle, and I'm 10 years old, and today, this guy… Me and my friends went outside to play family, and I was making a plunger for the toilet, and he walked up to me and said, “Hey? what are you doing?” And he grabbed the plunger out of my hand and threw it in the woods, even though I had worked on it, and then I tried to start again, and he came back and said, “What are you doing?” again and threw it into the woods. What should I do in that situation?Hi, Noelle. It’s annoying to have someone try to wreck your game, especially more than once! I think that’s something a lot of kids have faced.In your situation, I’m sure you told him to stop. But that didn’t work.You could go to a teacher or other grown-up in charge and explain what’s happening. Maybe they’d tell the other kid to stop, and maybe he’d listen. But before going to an adult, you may want to be curious about why he’s wrecking your game by throwing the plunger.Maybe he doesn’t like you, and he’s trying to be mean.Maybe he’s bored, and he thinks it’s funny if you and your friends all yell at him.Maybe he actually wants to join your game, and he thinks throwing the plunger is a good way to do it.Maybe he’s trying to show off and impress you with how far he can throw the plunger.I don’t know what he’s thinking. You might have some idea about which of these possibilities is most likely, based on other things that have happened between you and this kid.If you think he’s looking for a reaction, you could try ignoring him. Don’t say anything. Just do something else until he loses interest.If you think he wants to play, you could try giving him a job. Ask him to do something that helps your game.But I wonder what would have happened if you’d looked at him and calmly asked, “How are you hoping I’ll respond to you throwing the plunger?”I bet he’d be surprised by that question. Maybe he’d just leave. Which is fine. Or maybe he’d explain why he was throwing it. And you could explain, why you need the plunger, and move on from there.It sounds like this boy isn’t a friend of yours, but we often have to get along with people we don’t particularly like. Being curious about what they’re thinking or what they want can be useful in figuring out how to deal with them.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 select the podcast tab to see how to submit your question. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 2, Brayden, age 12: Friendship with brother
Jan 28 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 2, Brayden, age 12: Friendship with brother
Ep. 2, Brayden, age 11: Friendship with brother | What does it mean to be a good friend?--------Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) 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 it’s sometimes hard for brothers and sisters to get along?- Do you think it’s easier to be an oldest, middle, or youngest sibling? (“Sibling” means brother or sister.) Why?- If you have a brother or sister, what fun things do you like to do together?- Do you have a close friendship with someone who isn’t a sibling but feels like a brother or sister (maybe a cousin or friend)? What makes that relationship so close?TRANSCRIPT:Welcome! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic.I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.Let’s listen to today’s question:Hi, my name is Braeden, and I’m 12. My question is: How can I be a best friend to my little brother? Hi, Braeden, I just love this question! What a kind thing to be wondering! The fact that you’re asking means you’re probably already a very good friend to your little brother.But let’s think for a moment about what it means to be a good friend.Good friends have fun together! That’s the first thing. So, think about what you can do with your brother that you both enjoy.Good friends are also kind to each other. You might want to think about what you can do to show your brother you care about him. That could mean helping him, saying kind things to him, or maybe just doing small things that you know will make him smile.Here’s the hardest one: Good friends forgive each other. I know you love your little brother, but it’s hard to live with people! It’s very likely that at some point he’s going to do something that bothers you or you’re going to do something that upsets him. Good friends are able to move past those rough spots. You might need to listen or explain or apologize. But mostly, you need to forgive each other and keep trying to be a good friend.This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If YOU have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on Podcast to see how to submit your question. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 1, Naomi, age 7: Friendship ends over small thing
Jan 28 2023
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic - Ep. 1, Naomi, age 7: Friendship ends over small thing
Ep. 1, Naomi, age 7: Friendship ends over small thing | Different points of view--------Like the podcast? Check out my books and webinars at EileenKennedyMoore.com. Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER drfriendtastic.substack.com to get episodes sent to your email plus posts for parents. Scroll down for discussion questions and a transcript.SUBMIT A QUESTION TO DR. FRIENDTASTICAdults, 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, and3) 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?TRANSCRIPT: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. Get full access to Dr. Friendtastic at drfriendtastic.substack.com/subscribe