Friends are important to kids. Sometimes the need to make their friends happy or to fit in gets in the way of their own happiness. They might be afraid that their friends won’t like them anymore if they disappoint them in some way. They might try so hard to be liked that they forget to take care of themselves. 

You Can’t Please Everyone! by Ellen Flanagan Burns explores this challenging situation by following a character named Ellie, who struggles with this aspect of friendship. It’s a hopeful, helpful story for kids who need reassurance that they can be nice to others and be true to themselves.

Here are some tips from an adapted excerpt of the introduction, entitled Dear Reader. 

It’s not your job to: 

  • Please People  When you try to please people, it feels good at first because it makes them happy, but that good feeling doesn’t last very long. Always worrying about what people think is exhausting! It’s much better to just be yourself and trust that’s enough for your friends. 
  • Be Liked  The truth is, the way somebody feels about you isn’t really your concern. The way YOU feel about you is. So, be your best YOU. It’s OKAY to be yourself and say “no” to others.
  • Do It All  You can’t do it all, and your good friends don’t expect you to. You’ll feel happier and more confident when you do what feels right instead of what you think someone else wants you to do.

It is your job to:

  • Be Kind  It feels good to be kind and help others when you can. That’s different than trying to please people. Do the thing that feels right rather than the thing that makes others like you. When we do what feels right, it gives us a good feeling that lasts.
  • Be Yourself  There’s no one else like you. Whether you are silly, sweet, quiet, smart, shy, funny, talkative, or outgoing (or all of the above at different times), BE YOURSELF! That’s enough. You’ll learn to speak up for yourself in a way that is friendly and true to yourself. 
  • Choose Your Friends Wisely  People who expect you to make them happy rather than being yourself can be difficult to get along with. They may blame you when things don’t go their way. These kinds of friends can bring out the people-pleasing side of you. Find friends who lift you up, not bring you down. Find friends who like you just the way you are. 
by Ellen Flanagan Burns

This Article's Author

Ellen Flanagan Burns is a school psychologist and the author of several books dedicated to helping children overcome anxiety. She believes that children’s books can be a powerful therapeutic tool and supports cognitive-based interventions for children with anxiety-related issues.

Related Books from Magination Press

  • You Can’t Please Everyone!

    Ellen Flanagan-Burns

    Ellie feels like she is disappointing people if she says “no.” One way or another, she thinks she is hurting someone’s feelings. Or she puts other people’s wants or needs in front of her own. With help from her parents and her teacher, Ellie finds the strength to be honest with people and do the right thing for herself by learning how to say “no.”

    This is a hopeful, helpful story for kids who need reassurance that they can be nice to others and be true to themselves.