Friendship Advice for Kids

Click on a question below to see Dr. Friendtastic’s friendship advice for kids!
What advice would YOU give to these kids? Have you ever been in a similar situation?

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Question #326: My friend is nice, but she likes to boss me around. We always have to do what she wants and do things her way. I don’t want to lose her as a friend, but it’s not fun to have her ordering me around. What should I do?
- Jessica Fedupfollower

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Dear Jessica,

There’s a middle ground between putting up with being bossed around versus ending a friendship: You could try to talk to your friend about what you want.

You don’t have to yell or get angry or accuse your friend of being mean. My guess is that she isn’t trying to boss you around; she’s just excited about her idea. The next time she wants to do one thing, and you want to do something different, try using one of these comments:

  • “We did that last time. This time, let’s…”
  • “I’m tired of playing that game. I want to…”
  • “I don’t like that game. I like it better when we…”
  • “This isn’t fun for me. Let’s do something else, instead.”
  • “How about if we do partly what you want and partly what I want?”

These comments get your message across clearly while also being friendly. Going along with what your friend wants on the outside while being mad at her on the inside isn’t kind. It’s not fair to expect your friend to be able to read your mind! How can she know what you want if you don’t tell her? If you can explain what you want, it will make it easier for your friend to understand and respect your wishes.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic

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Question #86: My parents are making me play on the rec baseball team. I like baseball, but I’m terrible at it. They say playing baseball will help me make friends, but I’m worried everyone will laugh at me. What should I do?
- David Afraidtoplay

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Dear David,

It sounds like you feel self-conscious about your baseball skills. You’re worried that the other kids will judge you or make fun of you.

There are three things I’d like you to keep in mind:

1) There are many ways to contribute to a team. Think of your favorite professional athlete. He’s probably the star of his team! Does that mean the other players should give up and stay home? Of course not! Each player brings something to the team.

On the rec team, maybe there will be kids who are better hitters or catchers or runners than you. That’s OK. You can be the teammate who is most enthusiastic, or most cheerful, or most encouraging, or who tries hardest…

2) The only way you’ll improve your baseball skills is by practicing and getting feedback from a coach who can guide your learning. I am positive that if you work hard on the rec team and really listen to the coach, you will end the season a better player than you started! Will you be the star of the team? Who knows? It doesn’t matter because…

3) You don’t need to impress people to make friends. You said you like baseball. I bet there are other kids on the rec team who do, too. Kids make friends by doing fun things together.

And if someone does say something mean like “You stink at baseball!”? You don’t have to be wounded by that kind of comment. In fact, you can drain the power of a criticism by agreeing with it. Just answer cheerfully by saying, “Yeah, I definitely need to work on my fielding!” Then go hang out with someone kinder.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic


Question #147: How many friends do I need?
- Lizzie Countingbuddies

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Dear Lizzie,

You need enough friends that you feel understood and liked.

Sometimes, kids have just one super close friend. This can be wonderful, but it’s a rare and precious kind of friendship. And what happens if that friend is sick one day, or you have an argument, or your friend moves away?

Usually it’s a good idea to have other kinds of friends, in addition to a close friend. You might have a bus stop friend, a soccer friend, a neighbor friend, a cousin friend… Each of these different types of friends adds to your life. And sometimes these more casual friends turn into close friends.

Having more types of friends also gives you more opportunity for fun!

Sometimes kids only have casual friends and no one super close friend. That’s okay, too. The important thing is that you feel connected to other kids who you like and who like you back.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic


Question #552: We have to do a group project about a famous mathematician. It’s worth one whole test grade, so I want to do a good job. My friend wants to do it with me, but he always goofs around, and I end up doing all the work. I want to do the project with someone else, but I don’t want him to be mad at me. What should I do?
- Jeffrey Partnerpicker

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Dear Jeffrey,

So, you want to do well on the project, but you also want to maintain your friendship. There are a few possibilities here: You could just say, “No” to your friend, but that would probably make him feel hurt and rejected. You owe it to your friend to explain your concerns rather than just dumping him.

If you think it’s possible that your friend could work well with you, you could say something like “The last time we did a project together, I ended up having to do the whole poster myself the night before. If we work together again, I need you to promise that you’ll do an equal part, and we’ll plan things so we get it all done without having to rush at the end.” To help your friend keep this promise, you’ll need to have “mini-deadlines” to keep you on track.

If you’re sure that working with your friend isn’t a good idea, then you need to say this gently, emphasizing that you like him even though you don’t want to work with him. You could say something like “You’re a great friend, and we always have a good time together, but I think the way we work is too different for us to be partners.” Rejection, even if it involves a project about famous mathematicians, always stings, so if you do this, be sure to invite your friend over as soon as possible, to show you really do like him.

Another option is to expand the group. If you have three or four kids working on the project, and the others are all good workers, you won’t feel overburdened, and your friend might follow the get-it-done style of the other members.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic


Question #212: My two friends fight over playing with me. They won’t play all together, so I have to choose who to play with, which means one of them is always mad at me. What should I do?
- Priya Caughtinthemiddle

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Dear Priya,

This is a difficult situation! Both of your friends are thinking about what they want and not considering your feelings. You may want to sit down with each of them, privately, and explain that their arguing makes you uncomfortable. Tell them each that you want to continue being friends with them, but when they insist on one-on-one play, it puts you in an awkward position.

Three-way friendships can be challenging because one person tends to feel left out, even if no one is trying to exclude anyone. It may help to invite a fourth friend to join your group.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic


Question #53: My friend has no sense of humor. I like to pat him on the head and tease him about being short, because he is, and he gets so mad! I tell him I’m just kidding, but that doesn’t help. What can I do to teach him to take a joke?
- Henry Humoroff

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Dear Henry,

Uh-oh. It’s clear that your friend is not enjoying your humor. Most people don’t like it when you make comments about the way they look–especially if it’s about something they can’t change. I’m sure you’re trying to be playful and fun, but your words and actions probably seem mean to your friend. You say your friend gets mad when you tease him about his height. If you do something that makes your friend mad, even if you weren’t trying to be mean, you need to stop. Kids don’t want to be around kids who make them mad. Instead of trying to be funny, be kind to your friend. You can’t go wrong with kindness.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic