Ep. 46 – Anna, Age 9: Wishing for a Best Friend

Building closer friendships

Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Ep. 46 – Anna, Age 9: Wishing for a Best Friend
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Scroll down for DISCUSSION QUESTIONS & TRANSCRIPT

Think About It Questions

  • Who do you consider your closest friends? How did you become close?
  • Has anyone ever said to you, “I’ll be your best friend if you..”? If so, how did that make you feel? Why is this NOT a good way to make close friends?
  • What do you think Dr. Friendtastic means when she says, “Friends are people, not possessions”? (Hint: She also talks about building a close friendship together, with time and effort.)
  • Why do you think Dr. Friendtastic likes the term “close friend” more than “best friend”?
  • Thinking about the kids you know now, who is someone you’d like to become closer friends with? How could you do that?

Transcript

Hi, 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:

My name is Anna, and I'm 9 years old. I have a question. My question is: how can I make a best friend?

Hi, Anna! Thanks for sending in your question. A lot of kids wonder about this! The idea of having a best buddy is very appealing. Who wouldn’t want someone who is always there for you and likes you more than anyone else!

And sometimes, when kids look around and see that everyone else seems to have a best friend, but they don’t, they can feel like they’re missing out.

But we need to be careful not to think about a best friend as a prize to grab! Friends are people, not possessions.

Sometimes kids say, “I’ll be your best friend if you do this!” or “I won’t be your best friend if you do that!” Bribery and threats won’t lead to real friendship!

I like the term “close friend” more than “best friend.” “Best friend” sounds like you’re judging your friends and assigning them points to decide who’s better or worse. That’s not a caring thing to do.

It also doesn’t really make sense because we can have lots of different kinds of friends. You might feel very close to one friend because you play on the same soccer team at the same time that you feel close to another friend who’s your neighbor and hangs out and draws with you a lot. They’re different people, so of course your friendships are different, but one isn’t necessarily better than the other.

So, how can you build close friendships? Well, start by looking for kids you have a lot in common with, who you like, and who seem to like you.

Show these kids that you want to deepen your friendship by spending time with just them, one-on-one. A great way to do this is to invite them to get together with you outside of where you already see them. So, for that soccer team friend, maybe you could plan to hang out before or after practice.

Doing fun things together is how kids make and keep friends, but there’s another layer for a close friendship, and that’s knowing and caring about each other.

Get to know what your friend likes and doesn’t like, their past experiences, and their future hopes and fears. Ask interested questions and pay attention to what your friend says so you remember. This shows your friend that they matter to you.

Also, you need to let your friend get to know you by sharing about what you think, feel, and do.

Now, you can’t just sit a friend down and say, “OK, I’m going to tell you every single thing about me. Take notes!” It’s more of a back-and-forth thing. You share a little, then they share a little. They share a little, then you share a little. Pretty soon, you’ll know each other well.

Your growing knowledge of your friend helps you respond in caring ways. So you might ask about your friend’s visit with their cousin, or offer to play their favorite game, or keep them company and say encouraging words when they’re nervous about trying out for the play.

And chances are, your friend will want to do the same for you because together, with time and effort, you’ve built a close friendship.

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.

Do you want to learn even more about friendship? Check out my funny and practical books for kids: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, and my new book, Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.

OR find them on your favorite podcast platform!