The Power of Childhood Friendships

By Andrea Williams with quotes from Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.
Posted on: Daily Parent, August 1, 2014

Expert insight into the power of childhood friendships, for better or worse, and how to nurture friend-making skills.

Some of us can still fondly remember long summer days and recess hours spent with our closest pals, making mud pies, catching ladybugs and generally having lots of fun. As it turns out, the effects of those adolescent friendships last well into adulthood.

“Being chosen [as a friend] makes a child or teen feel affirmed, and it also expands their horizon beyond the narrow world of their nuclear family,” says Dr. Jan Yager, Ph.D., author of When Friendship Hurts. “The child or teen can become friends with someone of a different race, religion, culture or socio-economic background since their siblings will most likely be very similar to them. Friendships outside of siblings expand a child or teen’s horizons and view of the world and other families besides their own.”

Conversely, not learning to develop solid friendships can negatively affect a child’s future, as Yager notes that kids who spend too much time alone can become lonely teens and adults and even begin to develop signs of depression. Truly, we live in an interconnected world, and whether it relates to effectively completing group assignments in high school or college, or securing a job post-graduation and being able to work collaboratively with colleagues, it’s important that we encourage our children to develop strong, meaningful friendships. Here’s how:

Teach kids how to be good friends.

Anyone who’s had a relationship with an overly needy or inconsiderate person knows that being a great friend to others has become a bit of a lost art. Teach your kids now how to treat others well, and you won’t ever have to worry about them being alone later. “Kids can learn to model great friendships when they are given the tools for experiencing empathy,” says parenting expert Natalie Blais. “The power of empathy has a deep and lasting impression on kids because they are not yet clouded with disappointment like adults are. Kids are constantly filled with wonder when it comes to emotion, and empathy is an experience kids must learn to master.”

Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D, an education and child development expert agrees, adding that it is up to parents to model the kind of behavior that they expect their kids to develop. “Role modeling is significant,” she says. “How parents interact with their children and their children’s friends helps them learn positive friendship skills. For example, if friends come over, the parent may suggest, ‘Emily, maybe your friends would like a snack. I can help you.’ Over time, sharing a snack becomes automatic.”

Encourage kids to seek out children who need friends.

Though cell phones have replaced land lines, and kids may actually spend more time communicating with each other via social media than face-to-face, little else has changed in the world of childhood friendships. On any playground across the country, you’re likely to find a group or clique, of popular, outgoing kids along with a smattering of quiet, more introverted kids who hang solo.

“My son is going into third grade in September, and we spent the entire year of second grade learning how to find kids who need someone to be a friend to them,” says Blais. “At the end of each day, I ask my son if he had the opportunity to be kind to someone that day. I make sure I have him consistently thinking about and looking for the chance to be kind to someone and reach out to him. Often, parents ask their kids how the day was, but they rarely ask their kids how they genuinely plugged into the situation around them and searched out the kids who needed them most.”

Get involved.

If your child is introverted, it’s important that you step in and help her begin to interact with others. The key, though, is not to push her too far outside of her comfort zone. “Years ago it was believed that children develop a temperament by age 3, but most research shows that children are born with an individual temperament,” Fritzemeier explains. “Some will be naturally outgoing and noisy, while others may be quiet and reserved. Parents who push their children to become someone they are not only increases the children’s stress levels, but as children get older, she can begin to question if her parents want them to be more like them or a sibling.”

Yager suggests parents arrange playdates for their kids (even through the elementary years) and enroll preschool-aged children in classes like Mommy and Me or Gymboree to help foster new friendships. Additionally, adds Fritzemeier, bringing a toy or pet can serve as an icebreaker and help draw other kids to your child. Also, when choosing other children to arrange playdates with, it’s important to try to find kids whose temperaments match that of your child, so she is not overwhelmed by an outgoing or boisterous personality.

Intervene when necessary.

Eventually, as your child ages and becomes more adept at interacting with others, she is bound to get involved in an unhealthy friendship. Parents, then, must toe the line between allowing their kids to be proactive in choosing their own relationships while also protecting them from significant hurt or danger. “Being a parent means taking the time to get to know the kids your child is spending time with,” says Dr. Tina Tessina, Ph.D., LMFT. You need to know their parents and hang out with them. Driving [your children’s friends] places and listening to what they talk about in the car while you’re driving is a great way to get a sense of who they are. This is most easily done while your kids are small; once they’re teens, you have a lot less control.”

If you do discover that your child is hanging out with someone she shouldn’t, Tessina suggests deftly steering her toward more positive influences without damaging your relationship with your child. “It’s best not to say bad things about the friends you don’t like; it will set you and your children against each other,” she explains. “This is why it’s so important to pay attention early on: you want to intervene before your child is too attached to someone. The best tactic is to find something your child is interested in and allow her to get involved, and distract your child from the undesirable friends. It also helps to find out what your child is getting out of the friendship. Is there some kind of acceptance for something you child feels bad about? Perhaps there’s something you don’t understand.”

Ultimately, though, if you’ve taken the time to show your child how to be a good friend and helped her to develop solid friendships while she’s young, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

Adds Tessina, “If you set up a good parameter, you can let your child make choices, because there won’t be any bad ones.”

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“Cali”-fornia Cat Conserves Water

I bet you know one just like her: adorable, irresistible, independent, and a member of your family. Nine-year-old Cali is my companion, at least when she wants to be.

I love it when she snuggles close to me and purrs. Brushing and petting Cali-kitty is one of the most relaxing parts of my day. Maybe you have a special cat companion too.

Almost everything Cali does is simply adorable and photo worthy. Her album includes posing under the Christmas tree, kissing our dog, playing with tissue paper, dozing in the sun, lying on my lap, exploring bags, and drinking water from our bathroom sink faucet.

Cali drinking her daily water

Cali’s daily routine drinking water…simply adorable

Cali perches herself next to the sink indicating she needs her personal servant to turn her water on at just the correct flow. Not so much that is splashes her face, but not so little that it takes too long. After all she has a busy schedule being adorable.

And apparently she isn’t the only water faucet drinking cat. Many cats prefer running water because it’s fresh and they’re attracted to the water’s movement.

Check out some of these other sink drinkers. Does your cat do this? I bet you even have adorable photos too.

Princess Cali begins her ritual by washing her paws and face. A little water on the right paw, wipes paw on face while licking and cleaning. Repeats with left paw. Then begins drinking the perfectly flowing water. Another photo op of simply adorable.

cat-drinking-from-tap []

cat-drinking-from-tap []

I don’t have time to stand around and wait until Queen Cali finishes her routine. I never know how long my precious Cali-kitty will drink, so I leave the water running for her. I go about my business, take a shower, do my make-up, start laundry, or whatever. Then I notice the water’s still running. Oh well. I quickly turn off the water.

With several years of California drought, I’ve been thinking more about ways I can conserve water. I wonder how much water I waste to make kitty happy. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that letting the faucet run for five minutes uses up to 8 gallons of water a day! (1)

I admit that 8 gallons a day seems like a lot of wasted water. How about if I conserve and just let the water drip instead? Web site H2OUSE states that the estimated faucet leakage rates for 60 drops per minute = 192 gallons per month or about 3.06 gallons a day. (2)

Mog & The Kitchen Sink #01 []

If I’m saving water, maybe kitty can save water too. After all, she is a Cali-fornia cat. She even also has her own hotel: Hotel Cali-fornia, aka the utility room. I expect not leaving the water running or even dripping will be a battle. A battle I will eventually win.

But there isn’t a battle. Cali doesn’t even bat a whisker. When she wants water, I add about 1/2 inch of cold water to her small bowl conveniently located on the bathroom counter. Its fresh right from the sink and if I place it quickly, the water even moves. If Cali drinks all the water, I give her a little more.

No more adorable photos of her washing her paws. No more adorable photos of her drinking sink. water No more adorable photos of her water play. Just adorable photos of her drinking from her bowl.

How about it Cali-fornia cats? How about it all non-California cats? Let’s start a movement – Cats Conserving Water. Now that’s simply adorable.


Sources: Accessed June 18, 2015. Accessed June 18, 2015.

One Bike Rider & Two Ducklings

Two little ducks


Only one baby duck came back. (To Naraghi Lakes)

Went out today

Over the curb and far away.

Mother Duck said,

“Quack, quack, quack.”

But only one little duck came back (to Naraghi Lakes).


One little duck

Went out today

Over the curb and far away.

Mother Duck said,

“Quack, quack, quack.”

But no little duck came back.


Mother Duck said,


One baby duck did not come back.

“Quack, quack, quack.”

“Quack, quack, quack.”

“Quack, quack, quack.”

But the little duck still didn’t come back.


The bike rider said,

“I’ll help, I’ll help, I’ll help.”

Mother Duck said,

“Quack, quack, quack.”

With the help of a bike rider

the little duck hopped up the curb


Mother Duck said, “Quack, quack, quack.”

The little duck came back.


Mother duck said,

“Quack, quack, quack.”

The baby ducklings said,

“Peep, peep, peep.”

The bide rider said,

“Joy, joy joy.”


Adapted From: Five Little Ducks

Written By: Unknown

Copyright: Unknown


Accessed: June 23, 2015


“Do you work?”


When I think of May, I think of Mother’s Day.

Have you ever been at a social gathering and someone inquires, “Do you work?”

My gut reaction is, of course I work. Doesn’t every mom work? But I also know the inquirer really wants to know if I hold an important job that requires a college education and offers social status. Another variation is, “Where do you work?” In other words, do you work for a prestigious company and make six figures?

Medical forms also request work information. When I was a young mother I’d respond, “I don’t work.” But I didn’t like how it sounded. It felt like I was less than someone else, less important than a mother who holds a paying job outside the home. My husband and I made the choice for me to be the primary caretaker of our children. So why was I feeling so down when I was doing the most important job?

When our girls entered school, I finally arrived at a creative answer that I felt proud to share. “I’m the Vice-President of the Fritzemeier Foundation.” When someone requests my work phone, I simply repeat my home number.

One day at medical appointment, the doctor inquired, “What’s the Fritzemeier Foundation? It sounds important.”

“You’re right. I’m impacting the entire next generation by training young people to live independently, develop job proficiency, demonstrate leadership skills, participate in civic responsibilities, and become life-long learners.”

“Sound interesting,” he nods.

“It’s pretty remarkable. No two days are ever the same. It keeps me on my toes.”

Back to work.

Our Heart Attitude

Perhaps you’ve grumbled about a co-worker, “She always has such a bad attitude. I can’t stand being around her.” Maybe you’ve been told, “You have a bad attitude,” or said to your teen, “When you change your attitude, I’ll talk to you.”

Last week I spoke to a group of moms. One segment of the talk was checking our heart attitude. I adapted these questions from a book, Checklist for Life for Moms.1

  • Do you recognize that your attitudes can have far-reaching effects on your family?
  • Do you acknowledge that a negative attitude can easily develop into a critical way of life?
  • Do you accept that you can choose your attitude toward a particular person or situation?
  • Do you consider that your thoughts & attitudes should reflect those of Christ?
  • Do you trust God to show you the positive qualities in those who usually engender negative feelings?
  • Do you appreciate the common ground that can be found in negative or difficult family members?

So how do you check your own attitude? How is your attitude critical to your daily life?


1. Checklist for Life for Moms, Thomas Nelson, 2005.

10 Math Skills Children Can Learn from Laundry Detergent Lids, Part 1 of 4

3 edited by rjf

A clear plastic container filled with colorful lids

How do you describe your experiences with math? Many of us think of descriptions that wouldn’t be appropriate for a blog. Math is often an obstacle for students graduating from high school and community college.

Math Easier. But if we start teaching math concepts to young children using objects they can manipulate and explore, math becomes easier. Let’s look at making math fun teaching with lids.

One reader reports, “I didn’t throw away the laundry detergent lids as suggested in your previous blog. I’ve saved over 50 colorful lids in different colors, sizes, and a few shapes. What’s next? How do I use my lid collection to help children learn math concepts?”

Here are the first three of 10 math skills that toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners & primary grade children can learn from manipulating laundry detergent and other lids.

Cartoon Speech Bubble Clip Art []

Cartoon Speech Bubble Clip Art []

Math Skill 1: Talking Math. So math doesn’t become an obstacle for your kids or grandchildren learn how to talk to them about math. Most math concepts are abstract so use real objects when talking about math. (1) Hold three lids and say, “I have three lids. How many lids do you have?” Examples of what to say or ask children are shared for each skill.

DSC_0041 edited by rjf

It is easier to count lids that are all the same color

Math Skill 2: Counting and One-to-One Correspondence. Parents and grandparents are so thrilled when their toddlers or preschoolers can count 1 to 10 or to 20. The children have simply memorized the numbers just like they memorize a song. They don’t yet understand the concepts of numbers. This is called rational counting.

To truly count, children need to understand that the number they are saying corresponds with an actual item. This is called One-to-One Correspondence. The number two represents two items, and so on. Start with five lids and then add more. As you point to each lid with the child’s finger say, “Let’s count the lids. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. That’s right, there are five lids.”

20150614_125020 edited by rjf

Cylinder shapes

Math Skill 3: Geometric Shapes. Preschoolers can learn to identify simple shapes, such as circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. What shapes did you discover for your lid collection? Did you save any lids that flip open or square lids from make-up? The majority of lids in my collection are circle shapes.

Recognize. Once children can identify the circle shape itself, they can begin to recognize the shape in pictures or common items around the house. “Let’s see if we can find any circle shapes around us.” Then look around the room. “That’s right, the ______ is a circle shape.”

Cylinder. In California, first graders learn the cylinder shape. Cylinder shapes in my lid collection are from deodorant and assorted hair product lids.

Keep Collecting. Try talking math while you do the first two math skills with toddlers and preschoolers. And since you’ve captured a glimpse of the great skills you can teach with lids, collect more lids until you have about 150. The next blog will feature more math skills children can learn from laundry detergent lids.



  1. Preschool Math, Amanda Morgan posted August 9, 2008. Accessed 5/27/2015.


Don’t Throw Away That Laundry Detergent Lid

You want your kids to have every educational advantage. 1 edited by rjfYou buy the best educational toys and games available. If these toys cost more than your budget allows, sometimes doting grandparents or other family members purchase them as gifts. But what if some educational toys your kids will enjoy don’t cost any money?

When my girls were young, I had to be frugal. As a grandparent, I don’t have to be frugal. But I choose to be. Why? There are endless things to spend money on. Every time I save money on one thing, I have money left to spend on something else, especially something fun.

Hence the instructions in our home, “Don’t throw away that laundry detergent lid. Or the cat litter lid. Or the shaving crème lid. Or the hair product lid. Or any lid that can be removed and is not small enough to be a risk for toddlers to choke on. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can collect large numbers of lids.

Yes, I’ll admit my family often thinks my ideas are crazy. Maybe you’ve been accused of a few crazy moments too. But this idea is pure genius. Just ask my grandchildren. Children like objects that are different colors and shapes to look at and play with. My next blog will show you how to use your lid collection to teach kids math concepts, like sorting and classifying objects.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or know children, here are your new instructions. Say, “We have another item to recycle. The lids go in the dishwasher instead of the trash,” (put them in the silverware holder). For many kids helping our environment is a worthy cause, even if this seems a little crazy. My grandchildren started taking off lids before the containers were empty. Note to self: Be very specific when giving children directions.

I admit my grandchildren’s lid container is full. So I’m saving lids for a speaking engagement give-away. But since there will be only one winner, you don’t want to miss out. Start your lid collection today.

After the lids are washed, put them in a plastic or paper bag until you have 50 or more lids. I actually added a cost to my “free lids” but a shoe box will work just as well. If you purchase a new pair of shoes to get a “free” empty shoe box, let me know how you explain that!

So stop. “Don’t throw away that laundry detergent lid! Put it in the dishwasher.” If anyone questions your sanity simply reply, “I’m recycling, creating educational activities for children, and saving money.” Who can argue with that?

“Looking for a Zebra” Hope Street: My Journey

[] 1080532317 Zebra x 2 Christina Robinson

“We’re looking for a zebra,” explains the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) neurologist in December 2007. After roaming from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, and more expensive and extensive medical tests than I want to remember, I’m referred to UCSF.

Something uncommon. “I’ve had five or six patients just like you,” my neurologist explains. “Our neurology team can’t actually give you a diagnosis, but we can treat the symptoms. You have something uncommon. In the medical community we refer to this as looking for a zebra. Zebras are unique; no two are alike,” he adds.

“`Failure to diagnose’ is the terminology used by doctors (and lawyers) to indicate a patient has a set of symptoms that have gone undiagnosed.” (1) I leave yet another team of medical experts without a diagnosis.

Still a zebra. For four more years I trek to San Francisco for follow-up and hope for a diagnosis so my illness will no longer be classified as a zebra. Sadly, I’m still a zebra.

A to Z. Most children are familiar with zebras as they learn the alphabet. “Z is for Zebra,” they recite. I don’t know much more than children know, so I start learning about zebras. No one knows if a zebra’s stripes are black with white stripes or white with black stripes.

Zebras are distinctive. God created each zebra with distinctive stripes, just like He created each human being uniquely. I photograph zebras at zoos and watch them diligently. I purchase zebra magnets, zebra post cards, and zebra paraphernalia. (But I can’t locate one of my photos for this blog!)

I contemplate the doctor’s words often. “No two are alike.” I’ve always been different. I befriend social outcasts. I think and act outside the box. I color outside the lines. I march to my own drum beat.

If I was common. But for a few years I’ve longed to be just like everyone else. My logic: If my symptoms aren’t so unusual, the doctors can determine the cause of my symptoms. I won’t be looking for a zebra anymore. I know. It’s not the kind of logic I used in my doctoral program, but for this situation, it works.

Until the day I discover I’m not a zebra anymore, but an orphan.


1. When You Can’t Get a Diagnosis: Failure to Diagnose. Trisha Torrey. Updated November 25, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014.



“Are You There?” Hope Street: My Journey

“This will be good news,” I hope, answering the long-awaited call. It’s the nurse from the clouds-and-blue-sky-1387467-sneurologist’s office. “The doctor has reviewed all your records. He’s referring you to Stanford Neurology,” she reports.

Stanford 2012.  My mind flashes back automatically to grand mal seizures that started at, of all places, McDonalds in East Palo Alto. Aren’t they supposed to serve Happy Meals there? Next, the terrifying ambulance ride to Stanford Hospital’s Emergency Room. Between seizures I weakly plead, “Can you make them stop?”
Nurse. The nurse interrupts my thoughts. “Ma’am,… Ma’am, are you there?”
“Yes…, I’m here,” I hesitantly reply while silently questioning, “God, are You there?”
I’m physically on the phone, but  my mind’s recalling my body seizing over and over again for three more hours on a narrow hospital bed shoved somewhere along the ER’s neglected hallway. I softly implore, “Why can’t they make them stop?” My husband shakes his head while gently holding my hand. Then my body forcefully thrashes again.
Questions? The nurse rattles off more information jolting me to the present. “Do you have any questions?” she finally concludes. “No, …No questions,” I whisper.
I hit end on my cell phone. Did I really just say, “No questions?” Yeah, I’ve got questions, but not for the nurse. “God, are you serious? Stanford? I can’t go back there. Do You remember how traumatic it was?”
Prayer. Recently I prayed, “Should I continue pursuing medical options or accept the reality of my brain impairment?”
You answer, “Stanford Epilepsy AND their Sleep Center?”
Returning to Stanford is the last place I’d choose for medical treatment. Maybe I should’ve made more specific requests, like, “Should I continue homeopathy treatments? What about acupuncture? Continue supplements? But Stanford?” Last time I was dismissed like a crazy woman voluntarily producing seizures.
Make Seizures Stop. I can’t force that horrendous day from my thoughts. Then the radiology tech inquires, “Can you make the seizures stop long enough for a CT scan?”
Can I make them stop? For hours my voice begged anyone who vaguely looked associated with a hospital, “Please, please stop my seizures.”  Shaking my head No, “I can’t make them stop,” I mutter.
Relief. Finally, a kind soul pushes medicine through my I.V. The seizures stop within seconds. My body is quiet and still, almost lifeless. As my body begins relaxing, calmness returns. Someone directs, “Your C.T. scan is normal. Sign these papers and you can go home.”
Another Nurse. A second nurse’s voice draws me back during another phone call. “We’ve scheduled you to arrive at the Stanford Neurology & Epilepsy Center on October 15. You’ll be staying with us for up to a week,” she explains. “We’ll be monitoring your brain 24/7 and videotaping you. Do you have any questions?”
Questions? How many can I list? The questions I asked God over seven years ago are still unanswered. Sometimes I wonder, “Are you there, God?” But the question I asked Him a few months ago is now answered. Not in a way I expected nor desired. Today He answers in a clear, calm, reassuring voice. “I’m here. I’m sending you to Stanford.”

Book Review: Slouching Towards Adulthood

I just returned from a cruise where I heard parents talking about how many of today’s high school graduates are not emotionally prepared ready for college.  A discussion ensued about Stanford’s freshman counselor who found students unprepared and wrote the book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over-parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success. A similar book I recommend is Slouching Toward Adulthood. Below are some of my thoughts on this book.


The former title, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest written by Sally Koslow documents why a generation of carefully nurtured young adults is delaying adulthood. Though she offers no solutions except during a brief last chapter, she simply reports what she discovered from research and interviewing parents and what she calls “adultescents” during 2010 and 2011.

The Book

This thirteen chapter book provides a picture of college graduates returning home and living with their parents another decade or so. In the first chapter, A Public Display of Reflection, she explains how she learned that “twenty-eight is the new nineteen,” and included a new decade, the “odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood,” (p. 11) and she panicked. This information triggered the impetus for her book.

Great Book

I found this book so engaging. It’s flagged with countless post it notes and comments written throughout the book. She examines young adults’ relationships to work or not to work, money, and their social lives. In chapter three: Choose Your Own Adventure, she addresses the challenges with decision making. “Forget Plan B. There isn’t a Plan A,” (p. 24).

No Place Like Home

This entitled generation comes home after college because “…there’s nowhere else they could live better,” (p. 68). Two of my favorite chapters include chapter five: The U-Haul as Umbilical Cord and chapter six: Adultesents Without Borders. If your children have returned home or you hope they don’t return home, read this book. It gives a solid picture of what’s going on with the current generation of “adultescents.”

Book Information

Slouching Toward Adulthood: How to Let Go So Your Kids Can Grow Up by Sally Koslow, Plume Reprint Edition, 2013. Hardcover $14.95; paperback $16.00; Kindle $4.99.