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Best Friends, Worst Enemies


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About the Author

Michael Thompson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, lecturer, consultant and former seventh grade teacher. He conducts workshops on the development of boys and social cruelty in childhood for both public and private schools across the United States. He is the author of Speaking of Boys and coauthor, with Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., of The New York Times bestseller Raising Cain. The father of a daughter and a son, he and his wife observe children's friendships from their home in Arlington, Massachusetts. Catherine O'Neill Grace, a writer and editor, is a former elementary, middle, and high school teacher, and was the editor of Independent School magazine. She wrote a column for young readers about health and psychology in The Washington Post for fifteen years, and is the author of numerous nonfiction books for children. She and her husband, a headmaster, live on the campus of a boarding school near Boston. From the Hardcover edition.


Bullying has become an area of concern in the media and society. This book discusses that topic but weaves it into a broader study of children's friendships. Thompson, a clinical psychologist and coauthor of Raising Cain; Grace, an author of children's books and a former columnist for the Washington Post; and psychologist Cohen (Playful Parenting) present a developmental perspective as they describe how children's social lives develop from toddlerhood to adolescence. Research and analysis are interspersed with personal anecdotes and vignettes in an engaging style. The book concludes with advice to teachers and parents on how to improve social life in schools and support children's friendships. This is not a formulaic, how-to book. As the authors themselves acknowledge, the best way to learn about friendship is to practice it. However, it does provide useful perspective on a critical aspect of adolescent development, which tends to be overlooked until schoolyard feuds erupt into violent confrontations. The book may also be reassuring to parents since it outlines information on current dating styles, acceptable ranges of friendship patterns, and normal gender differences in interpersonal relationships. Recommended for public library parenting collections to complement Charlene C. Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese's more narrowly focused Cliques: 8 Steps To Help Your Child Survive the Social Jungle (LJ 2/1/01). Antoinette Brinkman, M.L.S., Evansville, IN Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The stories in this book come from many perspectives -- those of therapists, educators, and parents. The wise, kind authors give us a fresh cogent analysis of this critically important issue. I recommend BEST FRIENDS, WORST ENEMIES to all those who work with and love kids."

-- Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of REVIVING OPHELIA From the Hardcover edition.

Not since Dr. Spock or Penelope Leach has there been such a sensitive and practical guide to raising healthy children and this one doesn't end at potty training. Child therapists Thompson (coauthor of bestseller Raising Cain) and Cohen (Playful Parenting) have teamed up with Washington Post columnist and children's writer Grace (all three are parents) to describe the social lives of kids and the appropriate roles of parents, teachers and school administrators. They explore the stages of children's development, from parent-bonded to quasi-asocial toddler, the learning-the-rules phase in elementary school and adolescent and romantic bonding. Each phase may bring some negative experiences including some outright cruelty that can be hard on both parents and children, but sometimes necessary for learning about the world. They advise parents to think of themselves as "lifeguards" at the pool, aware of what's going on with their kids, but only intervening in the rare crisis. The book wraps up on a practical note, with chapters on how schools can be proactive and how parents can be most useful. Their advice? Don't worry so much, set a good example, keep perspective and relax most kids turn out okay. Thompson and Grace's breezy "we've all been there" anecdotal style will bring great comfort to any parents who're worried about their kid's social life in other words, any parent. (Sept.) Forecast: The planned 12-city author tour and print advertising in the New York Times and USA Today will yield big sales, supported by the strength of Thompson's name and Grace's media connections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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