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FUN FRIENDS is the latest program developed by Dr. Paula Barrett for the treatment and prevention of childhood anxiety in 4-7 year olds. It has been developed from the highly successful FRIENDS for Life program with a focus on this younger age.

The importance of a research based resilience program cannot be underestimated, with research showing as many as 20% of preschool children in the general population exhibit moderate to clinical levels of emotional and behavioural disturbance. Fortunately, the rapid development of preschool children allows for effective treatment aimed at both prevention and intervention. Children will have great fun and join in lots of activities promoting the development of social and emotional skills.

FUN FRIENDS is a play-based program that teaches children essential resilience skills including:

  • How to relax and self soothe
  • How to regulate emotions
  • How to understand emotions in yourself and other people
  • How to be kind and empathic
  • Social and emotional skills
  • How to make friends and share
  • How to be brave and try new things
  • How to build a strong sense of self and self esteem
  • How to deal with conflict
  • Positive coping strategies
  • How to change negative "red thoughts" into positive "green thoughts"
These resilience skills are taught in a way that children in this age group can easily grasp and adopt. The objectives of the program have been shown to be well-matched and complementary to educational goals and curriculum in schools for this age group.

Fun Friends helps kids feel balanced, happy, and well adjusted. Research shows that children who are socially and emotionally well adjusted do better at school, have increased confidence, form good relationships, take on and persist with challenging tasks and are more able to communicate effectively. Fun Friends helps your kids be all they can be!

The Acronym for FUN FRIENDS used in manuals and activity books.

  • Feelings (Talk about your feelings and care about other people's feelings)
  • Relax (Do "milkshake" breathing, have some quiet time)
  • I can try! (We can all try our best)
  • Encourage (Step plans to Happy Home)
  • Nurture (Quality time together doing fun activities)
  • Don't forget to be brave! (Practice skills everyday with friends and family)
  • Stay happy
Support for the FUN FRIENDS Program and the effectiveness of Intervention Programs for young children.

James Heckman - A Novel Laureate in Economic Sciences - believes that early social and emotional experiences of very young children affect their future growth and potential. Heckman (2000) explains that the preschool years in particular, are vitally important for skill formation.

According to Dr. Heckman, "Early childhood interventions of high quality have lasting effects on learning and motivation. As a society, we cannot afford to postpone investing in children until they become adults, nor can we wait until they reach school age- a time when it may be too late to intervene. Since learning is a dynamic process, it is most effective when it begins at a young age and continues into adulthood." (Dr. James Heckman, Invest in the Very Young, 2000).
Read more here about the importance of investing in our young.

The Development of Social-Emotional Competence in Preschool-Aged Children: An Introduction to the Fun FRIENDS Program (2007 Pathways Health and Research Centre).
Click here to view the Intro to FUN FRIENDS document.

Family Learning Adventure book
The newly published Family Learning Adventure Book (accompanies the Fun FRIENDS program) is also now available. The Family Learning book may be purchased on the Orders and Purchases page by all parents regardless of whether your child is enrolled in a Fun FRIENDS program however involvement in groups is encouraged.

Teaching and Training Manual for Group Leaders
Newly updated and published Fun FRIENDS Teaching and Training Manuals are now available. These may only be purchased by educational , health and other qualified professionals working with young children who have completed the Fun FRIENDS training.

To place an order for Fun FRIENDS materials, please use our on-line store.


There are two options available to professionals wanting to be trained in the program:

Regional Training Workshops
As a professional working with young children you can participate in an interactive FUN FRIENDS training workshop over one full day. People who are trained on how to run FUN FRIENDS can then implement it at their school, child care centre, or clinic and make the program part of the curriculum to develop emotional and social skills in young children. Once they have completed the one-day workshop participants become fully certified Fun FRIENDS Group Leaders, enabling them to deliver the program to children they work with. The workshop will be of interest to teachers, learning support staff, child and youth workers, day care workers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors, speech pathologists, other qualified professionals working with young children.

For FUN FRIENDS training dates for 2008, click here to view our Training section.

Staff In-Service Training
If your school or organization has a group of staff (12 to 25 staff) wanting to be trained in the FUN FRIENDS program, we can send an accredited FUN Friends trainer to you to run a one-day staff in-service. All participants will become fully certified FUN FRIENDS Group Leaders once they have completed the one-day workshop, enabling them to run the program with young children in their school board or agency. If you are interested in more information about arranging an on-site training, please contact Austin Resilience Development at or call 613-692-3764.