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Children’s biggest emotions often come up about friends and other kids. In this funny and useful book, authors Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Christine McLaughlin help kids understand and cope with feelings in ways that build strong friendships.
2023 NATIONAL PARENTING PRODUCT AWARDS WINNER
Everyone likes the idea of “best friends forever,” but friendships can be complicated, and they often involve dealing with difficult feelings. Almost all children have experienced feeling shy at a party where they don’t know anyone, furious during an argument with a friend, or sad when a friend moves away. Because kids care a lot about friends, they often have big emotional responses about them.
This entertaining and empowering book addresses a wide range of feelings children have about friends and other kids, including worry, guilt, jealousy, compassion, and gratitude. Through relatable cartoon stories, practical, research-based coping strategies, plus silly commentary from a cat and dog who have their own (questionable) ideas about what might help, kids get a hands-on approach that they can put into practice.
Child psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore and parenting and health writer Christine McLaughlin show kids how to recognize the Feelings Story behind common friendship rough spots, demonstrating the links between events, thoughts, emotions, actions, and social reactions through the situational cartoons, so children can clearly see how their reactions fuel or resolve relationship problems. And going far beyond a simplistic and unrealistic “don’t worry, be happy, think positive only” approach, Growing Feelings offers a nuanced perspective on feelings about friends. It emphasizes that all emotions are useful and guides children in how to empathize with others’ reactions, as well as how to understand, manage, and communicate in healthy ways about their own feelings.
Caring friendships are a protective factor for children’s mental health. Giving kids the tools they need to deal with the feelings about friends is a powerful step toward protecting and improving their well-being.
About the Author
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, is an internationally published author, psychologist, and mother of four. She is a trusted expert on parenting and children’s feelings and friendships who is frequently quoted in major magazines and newspapers and has been a featured guest on national radio and television shows. Her books have been translated into seven languages. She is a professor for the Great Courses, serves on the advisory board for Parents magazine, and writes the popular Growing Friendships blog for Psychology Today, that has over 4 million views (www.psychologytoday.com/blog/Growing-Friendships). She also has a website for kids called DrFriendtastic.com. Dr. Kennedy-Moore has a private practice in Princeton, New Jersey, (lic. #35SI00425400), where she works with adults, children, and families. www.EileenKennedyMoore.com
Christine McLaughlin is a mom to three boys, as well as a prolific writer, editor, and author. With several hundred nonfiction articles to her credit—published in popular magazines and websites—her written work focuses mainly on parenting and health topics. She is the author of eight books including Growing Friendships and Growing Feelings (both written with Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore), The Dog Lover’s Companion to Philadelphia, and American Red Cross: Dog First Aid and American Red Cross: Cat First Aid. Learn more at ChristineMcLaughlin.net.
The duo behind Growing Friendships (2017) return to offer kids more advice. Anger, jealousy, sadness—big feelings often arise in friendships, both among casual acquaintances and BFFs. Kennedy-Moore and McLaughlin consider the nuances of various emotions—for example, the section on anxiety is broken down into chapters on embarrassment, shyness, guilt, and more. Using the concept of “Feelings Stories,” the authors offer concrete examples of how people’s actions can impact others’ emotions. They also encourage readers to develop sound social-emotional habits, such as prioritizing trust and self-forgiveness, taking responsibility for one’s actions, having “a good cry” when needed, and treating others with kindness. Ultimately, the book stresses, you can’t control what others do, only what you do. Each major section ends with reflective questions and advice for using the strategies introduced to help others. The authors frame positivity as a “good practice” and suggest reserving the negative stuff for discussions with close friends. The book only briefly mentions a neurodivergent perspective. All additional resources listed in the back are ones Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist specializing in parenting and child development, has co-authored. Line illustrations throughout depict diverse characters; a cartoon dog and cat provide humorous, animal-themed commentary that at times seems to make light of the serious issues covered. A helpful primer for navigating the emotional ups and downs of friendship. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 6-10)
— Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2023
“Growing Feelings translates top-notch psychological science into a clear and compassionate guide that will help kids understand their emotions and the role they play in building and maintaining friendships. This warm, wise, accessible book belongs in the hands of every elementary-school aged child.”
— Lisa Damour, PhD, author of Untangled, Under Pressure, and The Emotional Lives of Teenagers
“A great follow-up to Growing Friendships! Unlike other books that generalize emotions, Growing Feelings uniquely focuses on the powerful feelings that inevitably come up in children’s friendships. The thinking and research behind this book are sophisticated, but the concepts and strategies are presented in a way that’s accessible and empowering for children. The cartoons showing common friendship challenges are very relatable, and the silly comments from the cat and dog make this book a fun read. I love the message that all feelings, even painful ones, are useful to understand, plus the practical ideas for coping with and communicating about often-neglected emotions such as guilt, disappointment, and jealousy. Reading this groundbreaking book aloud with your child is a great way to help them gain essential tools for navigating feelings about friends.”
— Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of The ”Me, Me, Me” Epidemic
“At a time when so many kids are overwhelmed by understanding their feelings, this charming book provides the perfect combination of humor, strategies, and practical explanations. The authors systematically tackle three big buckets of feelings (anxiety, anger, and sadness) and how they relate to making and keeping friends. Chapters provide relevant examples of real-life experiences and questions through the lens of kids’ perspectives. An essential tool for parents, therapists, and educators and an informative and fun guide for students!"
— Michelle Garcia Winner, founder of Social Thinking
“Funny and relatable, Growing Feelings takes the sting out of friendship problems. Young readers will emerge feeling better about themselves, with skills to handle jealousy, disappointment, shyness, anger, and more.”
— Dawn Huebner, PhD, author of Dr. Dawn's Mini Books About Mighty Fears
“I wish I'd had Growing Feelings when I was a kid. This thoughtful and insightful book will help children understand and gracefully navigate the many feelings that come with growing friendships.”
— Melinda Wenner Moyer, author of How to Raise Kids Who Aren't Assholes
"Growing Feelings is a fun, engaging discovery guide to the art of growing up. It doesn't simply tell kids about the unique feelings and emotions they have in friendships while growing up but teaches them the story of those feelings and emotions so kids can better enjoy the story they are living."
— Matthew Murrie, creator of Curiosity-Based Thinking and coauthor of The Book of What If…?
“A fun, engaging, and helpful book for kids to read with their parents! Friendships are critical to healthy development and create many BIG feelings. Dr. Kennedy-Moore and Christine McLaughlin help kids navigate Friendship Rough Spots by helping them understand the multiple emotions they’re experiencing and providing a variety of practical actions they can take to improve friendships.”
— Mary K. Alvord, PhD, psychologist and coauthor of The Action Mindset Workbook for Teens, Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens, and Resilience Builder Program for Children and Adolescents
“Children must read this book! It’s great—reader-friendly, informative, relevant, and research-based. The many cartoons, amusing dog and cat banter, and relatable Feelings Stories will empower children to find ways to overcome Friendship Rough Spots and forge meaningful connections with others. With its helpful tips, glossary, and fine-tuned perspectives on feelings, actions, reactions, and friendship-building, Growing Feelings is destined to become a classic!”
— Dr. Joanne Foster, gifted education and child development specialist and award-winning author of Being Smart about Gifted Education and Bust Your BUTS
“Growing Feelings is the kind of book you want to keep close on your desk as a parent or teacher and have additional copies for your kids to keep close for their own reference! In vivid language, with compelling and fun visuals, this book helps readers understand that our feelings aren't here to shame us or make us think there's something wrong with us. Instead, our feelings teach us, help us grow, and through being honest about them, we can become healthier and more hopeful. I love and appreciate this book so much!
— Luke Reynolds, Phd, professor of education, Endicott College and author of Surviving Middle School, Fantastic Failures, and Braver than I Thought