Keep the Social in Social Distancing

I’m seeing many introverts engaging more socially now due to our current, virtual world. Yay! Zoom is great for shy people as it can be less intimidating than walking up to someone in person.

Now is the perfect time to work on strategies to build your (or your child’s) social and emotional skills for when we return to “normal” in-person interactions.

The first step is to understand where you need help, and then to set achievable goals. What about interacting with others, online and in-person, causes you to avoid or delay connecting? Understanding where you need help is critical to setting up a plan.

Next, source online communities of like-minded people and in advance of the next meeting or call, practice working on these areas of concern.

SOCIAL SPY

Many feel uncomfortable when they use my social spy technique because we worry others are noticing us. Let me assuage your mind – they are not. Use this technique to gage the culture, make a mental inventory of people and what you KNOW about them, step into their shoes and figure out what hot buttons they have.

Next, practice making small talk. Bridge the gap from “Hi” to a deeper conversation. This is often easier in the virtual world as it can be less intimidating than real life, so practicing now is important.

Think about who in this larger group you might want to build a connection or friendship with. What invitation can you suggest to reach out to them individually? Look at their surroundings – what do the things in the background tell you about this person. Step into their shoes – what do they like?

Congrats on your desire to make friendships and connection important to you! Once you establish a connection, be sure to nurture the relationships by sending a message, calling or talking outside of the committee, school, workplace.

Remember to pick one thing to work on and every time you walk through a real or virtual door, to remember your intention, review the group and identify your role.

You Got This!

 

Connection is a Verb

We’ve all heard the sayings: “Money doesn’t fall from trees,” “The early bird gets the worm,” “Make new friends but keep the old.” What do they have in common? They require action! You don’t just sit on the couch and get rich (unless you are a youtuber or creating some new and improved way to work from home – stocks are super-hot now during COVID!)… but I digress…

My goal in this post is to implore you to reach out and cultivate friends. Friends come in all forms and from all places: your kid’s school, neighbors, coworkers, place of worship, online, etc. I say connection is a verb because it requires action. You can’t make someone else do something, this is up to you, and it’s especially pressing now during social distancing.

How do you make friends? It can be easy for some of us, and painful for others – just implore the isolated friend to “just call him!” What seems “easy” for you became an exercise loaded with details, dread and potential rejection.

Building the skills to make, and keep friends, takes time…. But it is Oh, So Worth It.

Roadmap to Making and Keeping Friends:

  1. Develop Social Skills – The good news is that social skills can be developed just like any other skill. If executive functioning challenges are present, it is best to address them beforehand as developing social skills may be impacted.
  2. Engage – This is an important verb, as it may produce uncomfortable feeling while you reach outside your comfort zone. Action steps include smiling, listening, texting, inviting, joining, etc. Start with small steps but keep pushing forward, the world needs what you offer. Read about Rejection Sensitivity.
  3. Interpret – Once you are engaging, you need to be aware of others’ reactions. Are they truly listening and communicating back? Do your best to interpret verbal and non-verbal language and to adjust so that each party is enjoying the encounter.
  4. Build – Rome wasn’t built overnight (I know, I know, enough with the sayings) but this is yet another example of how long-term action is required to keep long term relationships healthy.
  5. Nurture – I was just about to add how watering friendships with love is like watering a garden… but you get the idea. Reaching out, being there, truly listening, laughing, sharing are all verbs that nurture the soul.

My mission is to vanquish social isolation and to bring together connection – in all forms. I hope you will join me! #ConnectionMatters

Dive Deeper:

Read more about social skills

Download Connection is a Verb graphic

Read more about the importance of connection by Dr. Hallowell

How to really understand what’s going on in social settings

Rejection Sensitivity & ADHD

When you experience Rejection Sensitivity, you have a heightened reaction to a real, perceived or even anticipated event, person or situation. This reaction feels all-consuming and mammoth inside you and it’s crushing – even crippling!

When this event occurs, even if it is a small non-event to most, it feels enormous and can literally is paralyze you. This overwhelming physical sensation feels unbearable and on a scale of 1 to 10 – it is 10+! What matters here is how it makes you feel; not the actual situation.

Our brains are ancient, so when they perceives a threat, our body and brain go into fight, flight or freeze modes. The situation feels so intense because your brain is in “survival” mode and a deeply, automatic programmed neurological alarm is going off to warn you to get away as if  a saber tooth tiger is literally coming to eat you…

…and you go into fight, flight or freeze. This reaction – this rejection sensitivity –  can be past trauma or anticipation, but regardless, this fear causes a defensive cascade in the brain.

Future planning is the key to strategizing ways of softening or eliminating these reactions. To help avoid these intense reaction and calm your brain and body in the moment, I have invented the Intensity Meter so you can figure out How Intense Does It Feel?  How intense this reaction feels in your body indicates which strategy you need to use in order to restore oxygen and blood back to the deeper regions of the brain and calm your body.

3 Steps to Managing the Negative Impact of Rejection Sensitivity:

Step One: Figure out how typical intense triggers and events feel in your body.

 

 

Step Two: Now that you know how intense these emotions feel, you can begin to pick strategies ahead of time to use when your reaction has reached a 7, 8,  9 or 10  in order to stop that runaway cycle, and help regain control so it returns to the wise-thinking brain.  This calming is like an engine of a car that is overheated and revved up. Physical strategies cue your body that “you got this”, and there is no threat and it can stop the alarm system.

There are 4 R’s to help you manage these intense reactions:

(please send an email to me if you would like to download this tool)

 

Step Three: Develop everyday strategies to keep your thinking brain in charge and fend off the runaway reaction cycle. The more you intervene with a strategy when your reaction starts, the more you can avoid your body going into fight, flight or freeze.

Watch the Youtube Episode: How To Deal With Rejection Sensitivity

Read more on how to help your child build social skills

15 Phrases to Spark a Conversation About Social Dilemmas

Talking about social challenges is never easy. For most parents, the dread of how to begin keeps us from having the conversation at all. Or it turns what could be a series of small breezy chats into an epic conversation akin to a meeting of rival nations at the UN.  Some children simply won’t engage. They do a disappearing act—scattering whenever you bring up anything.

15 phrases to spark a conversation about social dilemmas and situations for your child: 

  1. “What does it mean to be a good friend?”

Teaching our children to be good friends starts with this question. Ask your child, “Who do you know that is a good friend to you?”

  1. “Who are you playing with these days?”

With a perspective of curiosity, explore what your child is doing for fun.  Don’t leap into a lecture—just gather information.

  1. “If you could change one thing about your friendships, what would you change?”

Coaching is about exploring and being curious. Refer to something your child has said about socialization, “I keep thinking about a conversation we had the other day, and you said you dread social stuff because it’s hard for you.”

  1. “Everyone is working on something. Do you want to hear what I am working on?” Share your personal challenges, then suggest, “What if we each pick something hard and we work on it together. I think it might be good to work on your friendship skills. What do you think?”
  2. You often complain about Jenny and how she treats you. How would you like her to treat you?”

Listen (just listen—don’t jump in to correct him or argue) to how your child describes social disappointments. Acknowledge what you’re hearing and follow up with, “What makes you frustrated about Jenny?

  1. “You told me the other day that being social is hard for you. What do you mean by that?”

Explore what makes your child struggle and what makes being social hard for him. Listen and collect information. Hearing his perspective can help him open up.

  1. “What are you doing well as a friend? What can you do to be a better friend?”

Allow your child to consider her role as a friend and the fact that being a friend is a dynamic activity. Rather than telling her what she is not doing, allow her to contemplate, and problem solve.

  1. “Sometimes you tell me it’s not worth trying to meet up with friends. What makes you say that? Tell me more.”

Explore her assumptions about social life and friendship. Does she tell you she’ll “never be invited,” or “it’s not worth trying to see someone,” or she wants “to keep trying on her own?” Some responses could include, “What makes you say that? How come? Tell me more.”

  1. “What are your specific strengths? What makes something easy for you?”

Everyone has different strengths. Help him look at what he is good at and what it means to be able to have social intelligence. Follow up with, “Who do you know who is good at the same things? Who do you know that is smart about social stuff?” 

  1. “What is a story we tell ourselves? How is it different from a fact? What kind of story can be helpful? What kind of story can hold us back?”

Be ready with child-friendly examples. For instance, people once thought the world was flat. How did that limit what they thought was possible and what they were willing to try?

  1. “Did I ever tell you about my experience with friendship at your age?”

You can share an example from a “friend’s child,” or you can share something from your past, telling it with detail. This helps open your child’s thought process.

  1. “I hear you say that a lot. What do you mean by that?”

Listen to the way your child describes herself in the role she believes she has in her peer group or the family. Comments such as, “I’m always the one who gets in trouble,” “I’m just the funny girl,” “I’m such a loser,” or, “They’re just stupid,” show an underlying story or narrative, she is telling herself. Ask her about those statements or little comments she makes. Some questions you can ask, “You say you were ‘being good,’ what does being good mean?”

  1. “What about friendship makes it enjoyable?” “Which friendship is enjoyable?

Friendship should be a positive experience. Help your child look at her desires for friendship.

  1. “How much do you need to participate in school activities to be included and have friends?

It takes a certain amount of “joining in” to meet and keep friends. Some children will not be social and engage in activities. Rather than causing this to be a lightning rod topic, approach it softly and make her think.

  1. “ I notice you didn’t talk to anyone at karate yesterday. I am curious how come?”

If your child isn’t a talker or able to find the words to express himself, you can say, “I notice…” and share an observation or an image. Ask if he agrees or disagrees with your perception.

For more on how to help your child with executive functioning challenges to engage socially, join me at The Executive Function Online Summit starting August 21st. RSVP now for free

 

10 Ways to Teach Your Child Social Skills in Daily Life

Some kids learn easily how to navigate any social event and other kids do not. As a parent, you are her original teacher and you are with her day in and day out, so you can help her practice her social skills in daily life.

Consider the opportunities in daily life such as standing on the sidelines at a soccer game, playing in the park, shopping in box stores and malls, standing in line at the grocery store, going to barbeques as a chance to be your child’s social skills coach.

10 Ways to Teach Your Child Social Skills In Daily Life: 

  1. Help Your Child Become a Social Spy-Build your child’s awareness by teaching your child to be a social spy. The concept is that the child can to go into public with a mission to be a social spy where she will obtain specific social information. You will rehearse with your child ahead of time, so she learns to watch other people in a subtle, covert way and to listen without looking like she is listening. The idea is to observe a specific behavior so she can learn crucial information about her peers such as how they dress, what they talk about at lunch as well as to teach her how to observe and also notice other people’s behavior, mood, energy and to scan and read the room.
  2. Spy at a Party to Identify the Unspoken Rules-In every environment there are unspoken rules, the subtle and nuanced rules of how you are expected to behave and what is acceptable in that environment. As you take your child to different environments, practice having her enter each event to covertly spy and uncover the unspoken rules of the household. You can start by promoting her and sharing your observations then have her spy and report back.  Have her notice: Is the house casual or formal? How do the members of the family treat the furniture?​ Are they tidy, messy, do they care about organizing? What is important to them?​ Should you touch items in the house or keep your hands to yourself?
  3. Take a Box Store Field Trip-Take a field trip with your child to a public place like a mall, a box store, a large shopping plaza and spy on shoppers and workers in the stores​. Have your child spy to notice social verbal and nonverbal cues and to collect information.​  Notice and draw a map of all the entrances, exits, and bathrooms. How many are there? Do employees wear uniforms? What do the uniforms tell you about who is doing what job? Based on what you observe who is in charge in this store? Who is in charge but does not wear a manager tag? Who is the grumpy employee? What verbal and nonverbal cues tell you how someone feels? Who is in a hurry? What social cues tell you they are in a hurry?
  4. Read the Mood at a Party or On The Playground-At an event with friends and family or while you are playing on the playground- prompt your child to pick out two people in her family to observe and then to report back what their facial expressions, body language and tone of voice are when they are angry, frustrated, nervous or frightened. Continue to spy on people’s mood throughout the event and ask your child how he should adapt his behavior based on the other person’s mood.
  5. Create an Inventory of People at the Party-Learning who someone is and predicting what they will do comes from stepping into their shoes and noticing a million little details about that person. Help your child learn to predict what motivates people, how they will react to information by playing a game with your child at a party. Before the party, prompt your child to privately collect information during the party to create an inventory of 2 specific people in your life by spying on them and gathering information to answer the questions about their interests, personality, and preferences.
  6. Teach Your Child to Engage in a “Polite Pretend”-The ability to fake interest or happiness and to be polite even when your child is hungry, tired or bored is what I call a polite pretend. Begin by asking him some open-ended questions, what do you think your friend felt about your behavior? How do other people feel about how you treated them? What behavior does the situation call for? This will help your child think about his actions and why performing a polite pretend may be necessary rather than hurting other people’s feelings.
  7. Practice Building Small Talk-Taking a conversation from saying hello to a full-fledged conversation is hard for some children and teens but it is a life skill. Before a social event teach your child these steps so she can consider how to start and move a conversation forward. First consider how the person and situation is similar or different from someone else she knows; consider what shared experiences you have had with the person. Then listen for clues about the person you are talking to or consult your social database for information about them you can use in conversation. Give your child some conversation starters such as, what have you been up to? What has this season been like? Are you taking a trip or vacation this season? Ask your child to walk around with you and start to make conversation with adults or other kids.
  8. Reading the Face in the Crowd-Most communication is through body language and facial expressions. At your next social event, play a game with your child. Ask him to read the faces of people at the party from afar, remind him to spy covertly not glaring or staring. Ask him to share with you discreetly what 5 people’s facial expressions alone, without words tell him about how the person is feeling.
  9. Teach Your Child to Learn to Approach a Group-Prior to a bbq or party, role play approaching a group with your immediate family so your child can get a sense of how to physically maneuver and so she can practice the steps to join a group. The steps are pause and scan the group, think about a similar situation from the past, figure out the group’s unspoken rules, think about who you know, consider what the people in the group are interested in, notice the social cues, body language, facial expressions of the people in the group, make eye contact with the group and initiate a friendly gesture like a smile and then approach the group.
  10. Gamify Reading the Context of a Situation-Context is the situation, the environment, the mood, the circumstances, and what has been going on around you. Some children struggle to pick up on the context and then to adapt their behavior to that context. At a social event ask your child to adapt his behavior to match the audience he is speaking to. Share some examples in advance, did they just get bad news? Are they hurried and busy? Are they sharing good news? Ask your child to demonstrate adapting to the context and then share it with you.

 

Do I Need to Teach My Kid How to Make A Friend? I Never Needed That Kind of Support, Why Does He?

By Caroline Maguire, M.Ed. PCC

Everyone wants your child to have friends, be invited to parties, have sleepovers, have someone to sit with during swim practice and have the ability to make friends without your help.  But things are not going well, and you are watching from a distance while your child seems to sit alone or barge in to a group or dominates the conversation. And you wonder why can’t this kid just make friends?

Some kids learn social behaviors and just fit in and get along with others. And other children really struggle. And here is the paradox if a child does not play well with others then they are invited to play less and then they do not get the crucial opportunity to practice their social skills. And they lose confidence. We get confidence from doing and from practicing. And the longer this struggle goes on research tells us – the harder it is for children to move past this struggle.

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/five-words-that-will-change-your-childs-lifeand-your_b_5a5e3207e4b01ccdd48b5fd3?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0c

 

Practice Makes Better

For most children practice makes everything better. BUT for children who struggle socially- they are often leery to practice or in a world of invitation only play dates- they do not have anyone to play with. And socially awkward children, quirky kids, shy kids and kids with challenging behaviors do not get invited to play or begin to opt out of play because they simply do not know how to produce the friendship behaviors that their peers desire.

The good news is that social skills can be developed just like any other skills and this means that no matter how bad things seem- your child’s social struggles can change. But to do this you must help your child. She won’t change these behaviors on her own. And she needs coaching to help her move forward.

When children are young, we coach them to throw a ball, swim, write thank you notes, shake hands and myriad other things. We do not expect our children to learn math by osmosis, but we often forget that learning social skills takes practice and work too. And this is no different. Children will not learn to make a friend on their own. We must help them.

 

But I Learned To Make Friends On My Own

You may be thinking – well I learned to make friends with no help. Maybe. But each child is unique and many children who struggle with friendship have  executive function weaknesses and this means they do not learn new social behaviors on their own. This is often because these children have executive function weaknesses. Executive functions are the management system of the brain – a series of processes that come together and help us:

·       Self-regulate

·       Focus attention

·       Manage emotions

·       Learn from past experiences

·       Adapt to new situations

·       Plan and prioritize

·       Think about the future

·       Self- monitor

·       Initiate tasks

 

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/understanding-executive-functioning-issues?gclid=CjwKCAjw1_PqBRBIEiwA71rmtV2Li_TGVeBijw4lNtQ7DMM7bpCLkK9-R1lOjnHfC_ToXyd0uXLhhRoC7goQAvD_BwE

 

These are all brain-based capacities directly affect how your child behaves in social situations.  And every child has a unique mix of executive function strengths and weaknesses. Executive function is not all or nothing there are degrees of impairment and these executive functions may explain your child’s baffling behaviors. For instance, your child cries and wants friends but when they come over, she ignores them, she tells you she wants to share but then during a play date she is bossy and tries to control everything her friend does. Your child may lack self-awareness and think he is friends with everyone, he may talk at people rather than with them, he may be too silly and too goofy and just invades everyone’s space.

This may be why your child needs support and direct instruction to learn to have successful socialization. And it may be why his behavior often seems  baffling and does not make sense.

 

Becoming Your Child’s Social Skills Coach

 

You may already be spending time trying to help your child with his social dilemmas. And you may face resistance from your child. That is natural. We all struggle to work on what is hard for us.

And your child may lack self-awareness due to his executive function weaknesses and he may not be aware of his own behavior and its impact on others. But you are the best person to help your child and let’s face it- you are on the front lines working with your child or teen every day.

You are already putting in huge efforts to help your child. Now we are going to shift the way you approach coaching your child, so you are more effective.

https://www.additudemag.com/help-child-make-friends-in-middle-school/

 

To become your child’s social skills coach, you must first understand that this may be a long journey -especially if your child is resistant to the conversation. And there are degrees of buy in from your child, she may not jump up and cheer or show enthusiasm to work with you. But there are degrees of buy in and if your child shrugs or answers your questions- this may be enough.

No matter what – do not surrender the conversation. As parents, we are engaged in difficult conversations, and we are not having them with someone who WANTS to have the conversation with us.

When we can step into their shoes and really explore this with them and continue to talk, then we don’t surrender the conversation. Continuing to have an open, collaborative conversation is essential to helping your child learn to make and keep friends.

 

5 Steps To Have Hard Conversations With Your Child

 

1.     Pave the Way

 

Having difficult conversations about challenging subjects can be hard for parents. You may ask yourself how do I get started?  Paving the way for the conversation is an important step. For young children its easier because they

 

2.     No Matter What They Say Empathize

 

Information is power. Often as parents, it is difficult not to react to what your child says. We’ve all launched right into blame, punishment, advice and, then the, “I told you so.” No matter what your child says — he skipped school, is avoiding lunch, or he broke the coffee table — let go of the desire to jump in and react. Take a moment to breathe, and then, listen. The larger goal is to gain your child’s trust, and it is more important than any minor rule infraction. Taking a moment to step back will help your child know that he can always feel comfortable coming to you.

 

3.     Reflect, Clarify and Be Curious

 

Paraphrasing what your child says and then repeating it back to him shows empathy and helps you clarify your child’s concerns. For example, he might declare that he believes that, “people should invite me to play—I shouldn’t have to approach them.” “Reflect” this statement back to him — “What I hear you are saying is that you won’t approach anyone; they must come to you.” By summarizing and repeating his statements, you allow your child to clarify, share more information, and to tell his interpretation of the statement. By being curious and trying to understand his perspective you invite him to be comfortable opening up to you.

 

4.     Don’t Impose Your Goals on the Situation

 

Ask your child questions and listen. Do not assume you know the reasons for your child’s behavior. Do not apply pressure and impose your own goals and agenda on the situation. Getting your child to feel comfortable talking to you is about hearing and waiting and showing confidence that your child has the capacity to learn and grow.

 

5.     Partner and Problem Solve With Your Child

 

Like any of us, children share more when they feel heard and understood. They can put their guard down, engage more readily in the coaching process, commit to developing their social skills, and invest in their success. When you allow for more of a two-way conversation, your child will be more comfortable opening up. Having a calm, open discussion in the heat of the moment allows your child to know that in the future, he can count on you as a partner rather than a judge.

 

Making friends is not an easy task for some children. But playing well with others is an essential life skill – as important as any other academic skill.

 

My new book, Why Will No One Play With Me? will teach parents how to coach their child through any social problem. Be sure to take my new checklist to determine if your child needs social skills help at carolinemaguireauthor.com.

 

My Child Can’t Make Friends & Keep Them – What is Wrong With Her?

By Caroline Maguire, M.Ed. PCC

Your child has worked all year preparing for a school play, after the play he leaves without speaking to another person. You watch your child pester her friends and brag until the kids visibly shrink away.   And as you watch you think why my child can’t make friends.

You are ashamed but you feel anger, shame and deep frustration with your child. You have endless talks with her but she just doesn’t get it.

 

No One Should Struggle To Make a Friend

Parents are often concerned about how ADHD impacts schooling and homework, but making a friend is frequently what is on the child’s mind. When I told that eight-year-old that sat in my office that day that there was a possibility that if he learned how to change his approach he could make more friends, he beamed! And that is when I set out to make sure that no child would ever be left to struggle alone to make a friend. Thus the Play Better Plan and subsequently, my book, Why Will No One Play With Me was born.

As much as you love your child, you know that he cannot spend every Saturday night with you for rest of his childhood. Of course you see the flaws and you also know him best—the funny, lovable kid that you wish everybody knew. Unfortunately, that is not what other kids see.

You have painfully watched your child struggle over the years. Maybe your kindergartener can’t sit still in school or he is too loud and the other kids are put off. Or your fourth-grade child can’t look other kids in the eye. Maybe it’s your eight-year-old that doesn’t transition well and has a meltdown every time you ask her to leave a play date and this discourages the parents from inviting her back.

Why is it so hard to make a friend? I’m sure you’ve talked to him about his behavior, begged and bribed him to be better, but odds are, none of these tactics have worked. Your child wants to get along. He wants to make a friend. He just doesn’t know how.

Social Skills Don’t Always Come Naturally

Child development experts describe children who have a hard time understanding social cues and managing their behavior as having social skills deficits, or weaknesses. It is hard for them to read social cues accurately or understand the unspoken rules of social relationships or play. It is hard for them to adapt their behavior in response to other kids or as a play situation changes. Without those skills, it is hard to make a friend.

 

Your Child’s “Hub” Is Unevenly Developed

Social skills weaknesses are caused by a wide variety of factors, but the most common is that the brain’s network of executive functions is unevenly developed. Executive function is the hub of skills such as attention, memory, organization, planning, and other cognitive or critical-thinking skills, self-regulation, metacognition (the big-picture, birds-eye view), and the ability to modify our behavior in response to others to achieve a goal.

These are the basic skills every child needs to function well in the social world. In a nutshell, if a child’s executive function social skills are weak, then he has a harder time understanding and managing social interactions. These problems show up in:

·       what children pay attention to in a social setting

·       what they notice about their friends’ needs and reactions

·       how they respond to disappointment or manage other emotions

·       how they think about friendship

·       how they react to new or shifting social situations

 

Play is the first and most natural thing all kids do. It’s that basis for learning. Social behavior is best learned by playing with others. But when your child does not naturally understand how to make friends- then she needs direct instruction and coaching to make friends.  Here is where they learn how their behavior affects others; they practice seeing other points of view and learn how to get along and make a friend.

The Play Paradox- Play Less Equals Less Social Skills

Today, children don’t get as many spontaneous social interactions. This loss of free playtime has impacted the child’s ability to learn these lessons naturally through “practice time.” For those with executive function challenges, the impact is greater.

As the gap widens, these children often become socially isolated. Usually those with the greatest needs are those getting the least opportunity creating a huge challenge for the child and parent.

The good news is that social skills can be developed just like any other skill. Scientists have discovered that when children with social challenges engage in skill-building activities on a consistent basis, they can learn to interact effectively with other in a social setting.

No matter how hopeless you feel today, your child’s friendship challenges are far from insurmountable. With your help and guidance, your child can build social awareness, improve executive function skills, and learn how to make and keep friends.

How Will Coaching Help My Child?

As a parent, you are on the frontlines trying to help you child with social dilemmas, but until now, haven’t had the resources to properly manage the challenges. Coaching is the process of teaching and practicing social skills with your child. You are helping them with the basic skills they need to make a friend.

Think about sports for a minute. A child has a coach to help with basketball skills and the rules of the game. The coach demonstrates and models the drills that need to be done, observes the players and gives feedback and encouragement.

If They Could, They Would.

Children with social skills weaknesses need help learning those basic skills to participate socially so they aren’t doing something wrong and getting pulled off to the bench.

When your child seem oblivious to the feelings of others or to the way his behavior affects how they treat him, it might seem logical to lecture longer or louder until he gets it. If that has not been working for you and you would like to see different results, the shift is easier than you think.

Coaching your child to better social skills is not complicated or hard. You can do this! As a parent who is always on the frontlines with your child, you have an advantage over anyone else as a consulting coach. It’s those teachable on-the-spot moments that make a parent’s coaching so valuable.

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/five-words-that-will-change-your-childs-lifeand-your_b_5a5e3207e4b01ccdd48b5fd3?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0c

 

Your Child Will No Longer Be Alone

You have already been putting forth huge efforts to improve your child’s social status, but nothing has brought about any lasting change. With basic coaching techniques, all of that changes. “Coach” at the end of the day is just another word for parent with a game plan.

 

My new book, Why Will No One Play With Me? will teach parents how to coach their child through any social problem. Be sure to take my new checklist to determine if your child needs social skills help at carolinemaguireauthor.com.

Should I Ban My Teen From Seeing “Bad” Friends?

DEAR TEEN PARENTING COACH

Q: Should I Ban My Teen From Seeing “Bad” Friends?

Banning friends and forbidding your ADHD teen from seeing people that you don’t like won’t work. Having a focused, collaborative conversation about your teen’s thoughts on friendship will.

BY CAROLINE MAGUIRE, PCC, M.ED.

Q: “My teenager is having a rocky time with friendships. Lately, she is choosing questionable friends. These ‘friends’ are not treating her well, and, because of their influence, she seems to be heading in a troubling direction. I don’t like these kids, and I am worried. Do I ban the friendships?”

A: You have hit on one of the most heartbreaking experiences as a parent raising a kid with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). Watching your child make bad choices, and feeling that she is not being treated well, is painful. It’s not easy at this age. Right now your daughter’s peer group is the biggest factor influencing her choices and behavior.

You asked if you should interfere. I’d take a less direct approach. Help your teenager think about who treats her well and discuss the joys of friendship. Banning a friendship usually backfires and leads to a big divide in the parent-child relationship.

I worked with a young girl whose parents did not like the girlfriend she was hanging around with. After several attempts to get their daughter to end the friendship, the parents decided to forbid the relationship. The child withdrew from her parents. She’d hide out in her room for hours. There was a lack of trust and a lot of anger on both sides.

Setting boundaries can be tough, but by talking to your daughter about friendship, without judging her or imposing restrictions, you increase the chances that she will go to you when she has problems with friends.

[Free Download: Evaluate Your Teen’s Emotional Control]

Get Your Child to Open Up About Friendships

Here are some tips for having this conversation:

1. Hold back your feelings and just listen. Your daughter will open up more if she feels heard. By holding back judgment, you create an atmosphere in which your daughter feels safe enough to talk.

2. Look at things from your child’s perspective. The hardest part of being a teen is thinking that nobody understands you. The more you step into your daughter’s shoes and listen to her, the more you can give her what she needs.

3. Reflect, clarify, and be curious. Paraphrase what your teen says and repeat it back to her. When you do this, you show empathy, and you clarify your child’s concerns. Be curious and ask questions.

[Your Free Guide to Ending Confrontations and Defiance]

4. Don’t impose your values on your daughter. Keep your agenda in mind as you talk through the importance of friendship, but do not assume you understand the reasons why your daughter chose these friends. The goal here is to keep your child talking, and to show her that you have confidence in her.

I would share with her that we all have different friends for different reasons, but the root of the best friendships is a shared interest. As you enter this discussion, here are some questions to ask:

  • What is it about these new friends that appeals to you?

  • What do you have in common with them?

  • How do you see your friends treating you?

  • What does an enjoyable friendship look like?

  • What kind of person do you want to be?

  • Can you be that person with these friends?

You daughter may be choosing the wrong friends for many reasons. The most important thing is to keep the communication flowing.

Clarify Friendship

Gather information on your daughter’s friends and what is going on socially from school — coaches, teachers, and others who can observe and share information.

Involve your child in activities and opportunities with former friends or those with the same values, to help her understand the difference between the two sets of friends.

Give your teen a place to feel good about herself — an activity where her interests are high and she can pursue her passion and develop a stronger sense of self.

[The ADHD Library for Parents]

We May Have Eliminated “Last Picked” But Not “Picked On”

Gym class was 45 minutes of purgatory for me in elementary school. I could not catch a ball and I was just not athletic. Try as I might, I was last picked.

We have eliminated picking kids for teams and the torturous wait to see if anyone else could be the victim of being last picked, but here is the thing – we have not eliminated the core issue and perhaps we cannot.  

Kids are still going to be picked on at school and we should not underestimate the power of that dread. As we are well into the school year, many kids are falling victim to the class bully. Others may be suffering from being left out of the “in” crowd, silently scolded for being different simply by the fact that they are on the periphery and are not welcomed into a group.

This is a lonely place, yet there is a solution. Don’t focus on the bully. Focus on the kid who is left out and his specific challenges with appropriate social skills. We can rightly report the bully, but many times the shunning is subtle and it leaves the left out kid with no recourse.

Now I was never going to be first pick, but it was social skills and being good at something else that saved me. So let’s look at a few things that kids can change.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Try to understand what social skills the child may need to develop.  Then work on how he can develop those skills. This will take time but often kids are left out because they do not know how to present socially appealing behaviors.

2. Give him a place to be happy, to be a star in HIS comfort zone where his talents can shine through. A safe harbor or comforting atmosphere is important so the child can feel that he is talented, which will, in turn, help him feel better about himself, and help him preserve his self-esteem.

3. Create a plan for him to implement when he comes up against someone teasing or bullying him. Work on role-playing and rehearsing his response to his classmates who are picking on him. Be sure to protect the child. Make a point to visit the school so they are aware of the situation and can provide the physical safety he needs.

4. Arrange play-dates and activities with kids who have similar interests. This will provide him with another social outlet. When a child is unique they may have to seek a new pool of friends; having someone who they can connect with is crucial. 

5. Talk openly with him about what he feels and help him name his emotions. Ask him questions about what his day is like. Brainstorm ways he can navigate the social scene more effectively. Often, left out kids do not know how to join a group or know how to approach potential friends.

It’s natural to worry about your kids. But remember, a child doesn’t need to be in the “in” group or be good at sports or invited to a lot of parties. What’s important at this stage is to help the child understand what his strengths are and where he can showcase them. By helping him build a toolkit so he can identify his emotions and understand his actions and how others perceive him, is a great start to identifying those positive social behaviors. 

A Castle with Walls Too Thick to Penetrate

One of my clients this week told me that social life is like a castle. The walls are just too high and too thick to climb and you cannot get in unless someone lets the draw bridge down.  

So many kids feel this way. They do not know what to do – so at lunch they head for the library or to the bathroom to bide their time and hide out. Maybe you were one of these kids and you can relate to the feeling that the social world is just an insurmountable tower of terror. Kids and teenagers often share with me that they cannot figure out how to change things. They are unsure how to climb the tower walls or even cajole people to let the draw bridge down. And so they avoid social interactions all together.  

Avoidance is a sign. Not a sign that the child does not care. Or a sign that he lacks motivation, is resistant, or is just uninterested in having friends, but a sign that he does not know how to break down the barriers so he can participate, or “join in”. Without a roadmap or help with his social plan, children and teenagers often shut down.  

So I ask parents to reframe their thoughts about a child or teenager who avoids socialization. Hiding in one’s room playing video games is not always about a bad attitude. Sometimes children just do not know how to climb the walls of the castle and break in.

If you are waiting to see if things will change without help, let me share with you that they will not. The child alone does not have the skills yet to navigate this kind of change. They do not know how to enter the lunchroom and connect with their peers, and sit down and join a group. 

Good news!! When children receive guidance and are provided with specific steps on how to navigate social situations to make friends, they build new skills and often become more interested in joining in.

 

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