Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Sunday Series - Developing Close Friends

Welcome back to the Super Sunday Series - where I speak to all topics gifted and how they relate to your child's well-being.  Please click on the tab above if you want to discover more about the Series and its topics.

This week we continue our exploration of Friendship, which has grown exponentially since it began in the middle of January.  Today is week 4 - Developing Close Friendships.  Week 1 gave you resources to help, week 2 talked about where to find friends and week 3 talked about making friends.

Developing Close Friendships.

Now that you've learned how to help your child make friends at all, let's dig a little deeper into making close friendships.  The book The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids observes that "no matter how hard they try, some . . . kids are always going to have a tough time fitting into certain social groups.  For them, the trick is to find groups they can fit into, or to find one or two close friends . . . who understand and accept them."  pg.69.

And this notion, finding one or two close friends, is what today's post is all about.  Good Friends are Hard to Find points out that one of the best ways to develop close friendships is through playdates.

I like to host first playdates at our house, by the way.  That way I can keep tabs on Oldest and how things are faring, especially in relation to Frankel's Rules of a Good Host.  These rules are similar to the Good Sport Rules, with slight variations.  Most importantly, the guest is always right (unless the guest physically hurts your child or is not obeying rules).  Other important Rules include suggesting a change in activity when bored, not being critical of the guest and being loyal to the guest.  pp. 103-115.

Frankel gives suggestions about how to help facilitate these rules, such as immediate enforcement after a violation with escalating consequences for inability to comply (in order- a reminder, followed by a warning, followed by a short time out).  pp 103-115.

We had a girl over last summer for a play date.  I could hear all kinds of inappropriate language going on down the hall, so I called Oldest in to give her a reminder.  The problem was that the other girl came in with her, so I couldn't call her out in front of her friend like that.  Especially not with this girl.  Truthfully though, just breaking up the bad word marathon by calling her in for a moment helped.  Then we talked about it after the playdate.

In various playdates we've had, I've seen all of Frankel's rules violated in some way or another.  And it's true, if the Good Host Rules are not being followed, then someone's unhappy.  I'll share examples from both sides - Oldest as rule breaker and Oldest on the receiving end of someone else breaking it.

A neighborhood girl invited Oldest over late last summer.  When Oldest arrived, another little girl was there as well.  They ended up rushing off on their scooters, with Oldest trying to run to keep up with them (at dusk).  Oldest couldn't keep up and eventually got stranded on a corner, not knowing what to do or where to go.  Terrified, she went back to the girl's house, and sat with her parents until I walked down to pick her up (having no idea this was happening).  The parents said nothing about where their daughter was and why Oldest was just sitting with them by herself.  It was a clear violation of Frankel's Disloyalty Rule.  I, obviously, was mortified but talking through Oldest's fears about being left behind and getting stuck on a corner were paramount to my shock over how I felt the situation was handled.  We don't do much with them anymore - even though Oldest asks often.

Oldest herself violated the cardinal rule of  Being a Good Host a couple of weeks ago.  We had a little girl over to play and from the sounds in her room, things seemed to be going swimmingly.  The mother stayed to visit, Youngest was providing the comic entertainment for us, and That Puppy Lilly was sniffing around having accidents in the living room, so I wasn't able to head upstairs to listen in.  As they were coming down the steps, I said, "Did you two have a good time?"  The girl didn't answer, but Oldest said, "we had a great time.  Friend wanted to switch to American Girl dolls, but I just kept telling her, 'every time you ask, I'll make you wait longer to switch.'  Just like you say, right Mommy?"  Scrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeech.  Oops.  Don't ever question whether your kids are internalizing the things you say to them every day, by the way.  So this was a great example of Oldest violating the Guest is Always Right rule.  I have high hopes for the next time, though.  We talked a lot about the importance of it after Friend left (as in "if you want friends, you can't treat them like you are their mother" type of talk).

This is where we are in Oldest's life - at the need to develop close friendships.  And we're working on it - slowly, slowly.

And finally, always provide a snack!  I usually do one midway through or if the kids have hit a lull they can't get out of.  Or if it's a playdate right after school - I do the snack right away.

Next week, I want to talk a little about "when friendship goes bad,"  in the form of bullying.  Then I plan to leave the subject for now, unless YOU have something more that hasn't been covered.

My question for you this week:  are you good at doing playdates for your kid(s)?  Do you find it deepens their friendships?  

See you tomorrow for Happiness Monday!  Or this week (un)Happiness Monday . . . stay tuned.
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