Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Study high fives and hallway hugs.

What you can do

Talk to your child about appropriate ways to greet friends and new acquaintances in school hallways and other places. Take him to malls and movie theaters and watch from afar how kids his age greet each other. Point out the different approaches you’re seeing and when kids tend to use them.

Make a game of it and see which one of you correctly predicts whether two kids will hug, high-five or bump fists. Help your child practice doing each of these and develop a list of questions and comments your child can say when greeting peers. Strengthen these skills by having conversations in which you pretend to be a new social contact.

What you can say

“Jacob, it’s interesting to see all the different ways kids your age greet each other. Do a lot of your classmates give each other fist bumps or high fives like those two guys we saw at the movie theater last night? Do they say something like ‘What’s up?’ when they’re doing it?”

“Can you show me the way you like to do it? OK, what should I do? OK, let’s practice together. You step out of the room, and I’ll have my back turned when you come in. Wow! That worked out pretty well! Hey, Jacob, the mall will probably be full of kids today. Let’s keep an eye out to see whether guys have a different way of greeting girls.”

Why this will help

Tweens and teens often greet each other with high fives, fist bumps or hugs in schools, malls and other places. Preparing your child to be ready to give or receive these kinds of greetings can help him fit in and build social relationships.

It’s important, however, for you to do some observing first. Then you can be sure the greetings you help script for your child will fit in with what kids are actually doing at school and in the community.

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