Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Plan reactions to negative situations.

What you can do

Ease your child’s fears about social disasters by helping her practice responding to negative situations. Encourage her to stay relaxed and avoid overreacting and drawing more attention to herself. Help her understand that she can influence the reaction of others by responding positively or negatively to her own mishap or error.

Talk about the different things that could go wrong. Put them in perspective for your child and show her how to respond in a positive manner. Talk up the benefits of using humor to make light of the situation.

What you can say

“Sofia, I know you’re anxious about having to play kickball in gym class. Since the worst that can happen is you striking out, let’s practice what you can say and how you should react if that happens.”

“I’ll show you what I found worked when it happened to me. I was never a great athlete, but I was a pretty good comedian! I always tried to make my classmates laugh with me when I messed up. When I’d strike out, I’d say something like, ‘Well there goes my career as a professional kickball player.’”

“Also, I want you to remember that you won’t be the only kid in class who misses a ball or two. Watch how the other kids react when they make a bad play and how the other students react to their behavior. Look closely, and you’ll see how quickly your classmates move on to other things once gym class is over.”

Why this will help

You’ll reduce your child’s fears by helping her plan how to react to a negative situation. Practicing with her at home and providing positive feedback and reinforcement are very important. Doing these things will help her internalize the strategies you suggest and learn to use them in other situations.

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