Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children (Paperback)

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Friends broaden our children’s horizons, share their joys and secrets, and accompany them on their journeys into ever wider worlds. But friends can also gossip and betray, tease and exclude. Children can cause untold suffering, not only for their peers but for parents as well. In this wise and insightful book, psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., and children’s book author Catherine O’Neill Grace, illuminate the crucial and often hidden role that friendship plays in the lives of children from birth through adolescence.

Drawing on fascinating new research as well as their own extensive experience in schools, Thompson and Grace demonstrate that children’s friendships begin early–in infancy–and run exceptionally deep in intensity and loyalty. As children grow, their friendships become more complex and layered but also more emotionally fraught, marked by both extraordinary intimacy and bewildering cruelty. As parents, we watch, and often live through vicariously, the tumult that our children experience as they encounter the “cool” crowd, shifting alliances, bullies, and disloyal best friends.

Best Friends, Worst Enemies brings to life the drama of childhood relationships, guiding parents to a deeper understanding of the motives and meanings of social behavior. Here you will find penetrating discussions of the difference between friendship and popularity, how boys and girls deal in unique ways with intimacy and commitment, whether all kids need a best friend, why cliques form and what you can do about them.

Filled with anecdotes that ring amazingly true to life, Best Friends, Worst Enemies probes the magic and the heartbreak that all children experience with their friends. Parents, teachers, counselors–indeed anyone who cares about children–will find this an eye-opening and wonderfully affirming book.

About the Author

Michael Thompson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, lecturer, consultant, and former seventh-grade teacher. He conducts workshops on social cruelty, children’ s friendships, and boys’ development across the United States. He is the author of "Speaking of Boys" and coauthor of the "New York Times "bestseller "Raising" "Cain," as well as "Best Friends, Worst Enemies," with Catherine O’ Neill Grace and Lawrence J. Cohen. The father of a daughter and a son, he and his wife live in Arlington, Massachusetts. Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., is a psychologist and the author of "Playful Parenting," He is also a columnist for "The Boston Globe," He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter. Catherine O’ Neill Grace is the author of numerous nonfiction books for children and was a former middle school teacher. For fifteen years she wrote a "Washington Post" column for young readers about health and psychology. She and her husband live in Waltham, Massachusetts.

CATHERINE O'NEILL GRACE, a former editor for National Geographic's children's magazine, has written many books for young people. She co-authored 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, a companion to this new volume. Grace lives in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Praise For…

"The stories in this book come from many perspectives — those of therapists, educators, and parents. The wise, kind authors give us a fresh cogent analysis of this critically important issue. I recommend BEST FRIENDS, WORST ENEMIES to all those who work with and love kids."

— Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of REVIVING OPHELIA

Product Details
ISBN: 9780345442895
ISBN-10: 034544289X
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 30th, 2002
Pages: 320
Language: English