Managing Relationships

As social, interactive beings, our ability to create and maintain warm, caring, empathic relationships is one of the essential building blocks for future psychological and social maturity and happiness (Burns & Street, 2003; Thompson & Gullone, 2003). Several authors claim that the highly valued individualism of modern Western culture is not conducive to the development of prosocial behaviors (Burns & Street, 2003; George, 1999; Gullone, 2000). When children develop empathy, caring, and compassion for another person, they are less likely to engage in violence, aggression, or other conduct disorders. Learning positive relationship skills is healthy, both emotionally and physically, as it improves immune system functioning and lowers rates of cancer, cholesterol, and premature death (Seligman, 2002; Valliant, 2002).

The stories here seek to address questions like, What do you do when you find yourself caught in the middle of a conflict, such as a parental battle for custody of you? How do you effectively make and maintain friendships? How do you learn to work cooperatively with other people? When faced with an impasse, how can you negotiate a solution? How do you learn to take time for yourself? How do you find ways of expressing tenderness, or learn how to put yourself in someone else's place?

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