Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Game out the consequences.

What you can do

Help your child get better at predicting what will happen in social situations. You can do this by encouraging her to ask questions such as “If I do this, what’s likely to happen? If I don’t do this, what’s likely to happen?”

Experts call this consequential thinking. You can help your child work on this by gaming out different scenarios at home.

What you can say

“Sofia, you’re telling me that Jamie is having a birthday party at her house this weekend, but you’re not sure that her parents will be home. This really concerns me. Yes, I do trust you, Sofia. But without her parents’ supervision, things can easily get out of control. ”

“What might happen once word gets out that there’s a party with no adults around, Sofia? Yes, some kids might take it as an opportunity to act up and take part in some risky behaviors. What are some possibilities? Yes, I agree with you, Sofia. And even if you make the right choices, what can happen if others are not making those good choices? Yes. And the consequences can be devastating.”

“I think you understand why I need to speak with Jamie’s mom before I can agree to let you go to the party. I’m glad you were able to figure out why a party without an adult around can be a really bad idea.”

Why this will help

Kids with learning and attention issues often aren’t good at predicting what will happen in social situations. Many kids stop trying to work on these skills because they’ve failed so many times they think there is no other possible outcome.

Thinking about consequences can make it easier for your child to say why she can’t be involved in risky behavior and to say this in a way so she doesn’t lose face with her peers. Showing her there is a graceful way out is very useful for everyday interactions with tweens and teens.

Social-prediction skills and self-advocacy often go hand in hand. For example, knowing what is likely to happen at a party can make it easier for your child to stick up for herself and tell others what she needs, such as a nonalcoholic drink or an immediate ride home.

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