Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Get into role-playing.

What you can do

Help your child prepare for parties and other social situations by using role-playing. Think your way through scenarios that might happen from the time she arrives until the event is over.

Pretend to be the birthday boy or the mean girl or the kid your child has a crush on. Work together to develop strategies to start and exit conversations. Reverse roles at some point to help your child think about different points of view.

Be sure to talk about what your child can do if she’s being pressured to engage in risky behavior.

What you can say

“Sofia, it’s wonderful that you’re going to Jenny’s party this weekend. It sounds like there might be some dancing and maybe some new kids for you to meet.”

“Sometimes kids make not-so-great decisions when they go to parties. Sometimes there’s a lot of pressure to drink alcohol or do drugs. It can be hard to refuse and stick up for yourself.”

“How about we talk about a few things that could happen? What will you do to steer clear of those things but still seem like a cool kid? Let’s say someone offers you a beer. How do you think you can turn it down without feeling too awkward about it?”

Why this will help

Adolescence presents a whole new series of challenges for kids with learning and attention issues. Less supervision, increased mobility and use of social media all provide opportunities to make connections that enhance a sense of belonging. But these opportunities can also feel a little scary because tweens and teens have to make decisions quickly. And those decisions often have some pretty big consequences.

Role-playing helps kids come up with useful strategies. It also helps them remember these strategies later on when they really need them. Knowing how to express their needs or who to ask for assistance will help tweens and teens feel confident enough to be more independent. Thinking about other people’s perspectives is also a great way to improve social skills.

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