Monday, April 7, 2014

Making & Keeping Friends: Helping Kids to Find Success


During my sophomore year in high school I went to my mom with a bout of teen angst saying, "I want to be popular." I had plenty of friends. Enjoyed a variety of activities. But I felt like I was missing something. I've never been voted to a high school court or been nominated for a class office. It seemed like there was a magical "something" out there that others had figured out, leaving me in the dark.

So my mom made me a bet: if I read How to Win Friends and Influence People, she'd pay me a nickel for every instance that I used one of the techniques in the book. I focused on finding ways to give people GENUINE COMPLIMENTS. In order to do this, I had to constantly be on the lookout for things that I liked in other people.

I started doing it. I don't think the nickel thing lasted more than a few weeks, because the immediate results were far more beneficial. Within a matter of months, I'd been elected to represent my class on a royal court and was eventually chosen as Student Body President.


Now, granted, this began with somewhat questionable motives. But I doubt that my mom did it because she wanted me to be "popular." She did it because she knew it would teach me an incredible life lesson. And it did. I learned a TON about what makes people tick. What began as a solution for self-centered teen angst became a set of life skills that have served me ever since, even helping me to become more altruistic.

As an adult, I've turned to the book again to help several students, including my own children. Lately, I've begun reading sections of it aloud to one of my children who sometimes struggles in social situations. After each chapter, he makes a poster to summarize the big ideas. I can tell the lessons are sticking as he has started to apply the knowledge to daily life situations.


I hope to someday see the book rewritten for kids. But until then, filtered and condensed, it can still serve as an amazing resource for kids who struggle to make and keep friends. Try it. I bet ya a nickel that it'll work! :)

10 comments:

  1. This sounds like a GREAT idea! I have a nine year old that I think might benefit from something similar to what you are doing with your son--thanks for the idea! :)

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    1. Awesome! So happy that someone else may benefit!!

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  2. Cindy (see, I used your name, wink), I bet you could write a great kids' book with that book (and your own story) as inspiration. How old is the child you're reading it to?

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    1. Sue, I would love to. I really think this is something that could help a lot of kids. Let me know if you have contacts in the organization! ;) I'm reading it with an 11yo. I've made most of my own kids read it at some point.

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  3. I love the illustrations. Made me think about what kind of compliments I give. I may need to reread that book.

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    1. I learn something new every time I read it! ;)

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  4. What a lovely story from your childhood. I'd never thought of sharing the book with my kids. I shall be reading it to my 9 and 10 year olds as soon as they'll listen!

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    1. I'd love to know what they think!! ;)

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  5. Thanks for the book recommendations. It sounds great!

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  6. Have heard of this book before! Think it'd be a great addition to our library :)

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