Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Focus on salesmanship.

What you can do

Help your child learn how to present information and make requests clearly and respectfully. Sometimes self-advocacy can be a simple process. And sometimes it’s more of a negotiation. Being positive and polite can help persuade others to see things from her point of view. Good salesmanship will make people want to say yes to her.

Work on tone of voice and eye contact. Talk about why it’s not a good idea to blame other people or make them feel defensive. Work together on positive ways to express her needs and to ask for advice rather than criticize.

What you can say

“Sofia, I know you have trouble taking notes in class. It sounds like by the time you finish writing one detail, Mr. Moore has already covered several others. I’m really glad you’re going to talk to him about this. Let’s run through what you’re planning to say.”

“Hmm, I think there’s a better way to get your point across than telling him that he talks too fast. Instead of saying that, how about explaining why it’s hard for you to keep up with him? Then you can ask him if he has any suggestions that could help you. Be prepared to offer your own suggestions too.”

“Maybe he could give you copies of his notes at the end of class? Or let you use a tape-recorder? As long as you’re positive and polite, I bet he’ll respond positively too.”

Why this will help

Presentation is important. Understanding that how you say things is almost as important as what you say is an important lesson for your child to learn.

Emphasizing the positive is a good way to create change without making the other person feel he’s at fault. By asking the teacher for advice rather than criticizing him, your child gives the teacher a chance to help come up with solutions.

As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Look for opportunities, like in family situations, where your child can flex her self-advocacy muscles. Give her positive feedback and talk about what she can improve.

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