Ep. 50 – A Common Belief that Blocks Friendship

Beyond the Magnet Myth of Friendship

Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Ep. 50 – A Common Belief that Blocks Friendship
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Scroll down for DISCUSSION QUESTIONS & TRANSCRIPT

Think About It Questions

  • What is the Magnet Myth of Friendship? Why is the Magnet Myth NOT true?
  • How are friends different from fans?
  • Why does bragging not help you make friends? (Hint: How are other kids likely to react?)
  • How might worrying about not being “good enough” get in the way of making friends?
  • Dr. Friendtastic says to “focus on being interested rather than interesting.” What do you think that means? How could you show someone that you are interested in them?

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.

Today is Episode 50 of the Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic podcast! Thank you for listening, for sending in your questions, and for being here to learn about making and keeping friends!

I’ll get back to answering kids’ questions about friendship next week, but today, to celebrate our 50th episode, I want to talk about a common belief that gets in the way of friendship.

The Magnet Myth of Friendship is the belief that we have to be so amazing and wonderful that we draw friends to us the way a magnet attracts metal. This is a myth, which means it’s NOT true.

There are so many problems with the Magnet Myth! The main problem is that’s just not how friendship works. If you’re looking for that “Wow, you’re amazing!” reaction, you are not looking for friends; you’re looking for fans. That’s a shallow and one-sided kind of relationship.

Also, kids don’t generally want to be fans of other kids! Friendship is a relationship between equals.

Believing the Magnet Myth can lead kids to do things that prevent them from making friends. For instance, they might brag to try to impress people, thinking that’s going to make people want to be friends with them. But saying or implying, “I’m better than you!” is not a good way to make friends!

Believing the Magnet Myth can also make kids hold themselves back from making friends. They might think, “Oh, I’m not attractive enough or athletic enough or smart enough for people to like me,” so they don’t even try to reach out to other kids, and they end up feeling lonely and stuck.

But the truth is there’s no giant checklist of personal qualities that determines who deserves to have friends! Friendship isn’t about whether you’re great in some way. That’s not a requirement! Friendship has more to do with how other people feel when they’re with you than how great you are. Do you show other kids that you like them and enjoy their company? That’s what can help you make and keep friends.

A third problem caused by believing the Magnet Myth is that it pulls kids out of the present moment. If we’re constantly thinking about “Is he impressed by me?” or “Does she like me?” or “Do they think I’m weird?” that means we’re distracted from the current conversation or activity. When we’re judging ourselves, we’re not paying attention to what’s happening, in that moment, with the people around us, because our mind is elsewhere. We have to show up physically and mentally to build strong friendships.

So, what’s the alternative to believing the Magnet Myth of Friendship? The alternative is to connect rather than impress. Look for what you have in common with another kid. Do fun things together. Ask questions so you can get to know the other kid. Focus on being interested rather than interesting. Bit by bit, all of this can help you build a real friendship that’s based on knowing and caring about each other.

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!