Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Practice greeting potential friends.

What you can do

Help your child develop the social skills and the language needed to reach out and make friends. Keep in mind that greeting potential friends can be a significant social problem. That’s why it’s important to work together on solutions.

Teach your child words and phrases to use and how to read other kids’ facial expressions and body language. Use role-playing to help her learn these skills. At some point pretend to be a child who doesn’t want to play together or engage in a conversation. Then she can figure out how to handle these situations.

You can make role-playing more fun by using dolls or action figures. Reading books about friendships can also be helpful. Another good way to help your child get better at greeting potential friends is to give her plenty of opportunities to be around kids her age. Consider signing up for a music class or going to story time at the library.

It’s also a good idea to try to visit the same playground at the same time of day. Repeated contact will increase the chances of your child developing a rapport with those kids.

What you can say

“OK, Sofia, let’s play a game where you and I practice making new friends. Pretend I’m a new kid at the playground. I want you to try to catch my eye, maybe by giving me a little wave.”

“When we’re looking at each other, I want you to smile and come a little closer. Then think of something nice to say, like, ‘That’s a pretty sweater’ or ‘You’re really good on the monkey bars.’ Does that make sense, Sofia? OK, let’s try it now!”

Why this will help

Kids with learning and attention issues will feel much more competent and comfortable in a new social situation when they know what to expect and come prepared with different things to say.

The extra time you spend practicing with your child will help her achieve a more positive outcome. These little social successes can help set the stage for a new friendship.

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