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Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children Paperback – July 30, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Every book I read about the psychological problems of youngsters focuses on the forms of social exclusion and bullying that typically occur in schools and neighborhoods. Best Friends, Worst Enemies takes that as the starting point, explains what causes the social exclusion and bullying, and details what schools and parents can do to eliminate it.
Social connection between children begins at a younger age than most people believe. The book details videotaped studies of infants watching and connecting with each other. Then, step-by-step, the authors show you how social interaction develops from those early months through to dating. I was particularly impressed by the conceptual description of youngsters being assigned a place versus the in group (in or out, and high or low status in that role). Although I could not articulate it, that certainly captures my recollection of those painful teenage years.
The use of animal studies is persuasive for the ways that humans often behave. I found myself chuckling over the descriptions of Alpha male and Queen Bee female behaviors.
The best part of the book is that it points out that exclusion is bad for those who do it, as well as for those who suffer from it. So all parents and all youngsters should be concerned.
The book avoids being too technical about psychological concepts.Read more ›
I was less interested in the theory in the abstract and would have appreciated more suggestions for parental action (or inaction) in each chapter. Instead, the "What parents can do" chapter was stuck onto the end of the book like an afterthought, and read like an article in O..."10 things you can do". The one part of the book that was brief, and it was the part I had hoped to be in-depth.
Finally, I thought the author put a lot of weight on the parents' impact on a child's personality. Obviously there is a huge influence, but there was little mention of temperament. It was just: "Johnny's quiet, and when you meet his Dad, he's quiet, too." And some examples were more accusatory: the mother is not socially skilled, so no wonder the child isn't. There are lots of kids struggling who are just that way. I don't care if he blames me as a mother, but why I think this misses the boat is that it portrays only the weak side of the child's personality and poses it as a problem...no mention that this can be the way the child is wired and that there are associated strengths. I think that knowledge affects a parent's ability to accept a child who is "different" and support him/her in their strengths and help them offset their weaknesses to minimize the negative impact of the weakness on their life.
I was looking forward to reading this book, and found it very disappointing.
There are some helpful hints to be gleaned from the book as well. Here's one I related to. Often, if a child has a problem at school with another child one day, the parent will tend to ask the child on the following day, "So, how did it go with Johnny today?" Your child, meanwhile, had forgotten all about the problem, but your comment provokes a "come to think of it..." reaction, causing the child to continue to dredge up negatives.
The book divides children into "accepted," "rejected," and "neglected" types, to describe how their peers treat them. I fell squarely into the "neglected" category, which I think explains my lack of understanding of the "need to belong" that so many people feel -- I wasn't really "in the game."
The authors mention a fascinating psychological experiment dealing with the need to belong. The subject was put into a group of people, and all were supposed to look at several pairs of lines and tell which was the longer line: A or B.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an incredibly insightful book about the social lives of children. As a parent of two boys--10 and 7--I saw many of the situations they experience in the book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I elected to read this book because my oldest child recently started school. Like many of the (overanxious) parents Thompson discusses in this book, my husband and I have been... Read morePublished 10 months ago by J. Houston
Insightful for parents of elementary and middle school students.Published 14 months ago by Gail M McNulty
Got this book for my daughter who has two boys and she was very pleased with the information and feels that she learned a great deal that will assist her in understanding the boys... Read morePublished 19 months ago by William L. Bush
Good overview of the role of friends in children's development. Easy and enjoyable to read.Published 19 months ago by Ck Duvall