Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Talk about fighting and social flare-ups.

What you can do

Talk about frustrating social encounters and help your child understand why someone acted or reacted in a certain way. Ask her to describe in detail what she wanted to happen during the interaction. Help her find other ways she could have behaved to get the desired response.

Ask her to make a plan for the next time, and then practice it using role-play. Pretend to be the friend, classmate, teacher or coach until your child feels confident she knows what to say that person and how to say it.

What you can say

“Sofia, I’m so sorry you and Ellie had a big fight. I know you’re upset and frustrated and feel that she put you down and doesn’t want to be friends anymore. Maybe you could tell me exactly what happened as best you can remember it. Did she say something that really got you going? Or did she maybe confuse something you said?”

“I know it’s hard, but let’s go through it so you can see better how it got to the point where the two of you are really angry and frustrated with each other. Could you tell she was angry by the way she looked? Did she shout? The more details you can give me, the more I can help you understand what happened.”

Why this will help

Repeated failure in social situations can lead to great frustration. This failure is typically the result of your child not being able to accurately remember what she did in a particular situation. That makes it hard for her to know how to act differently in the future.

Kids with learning and attention issues can be quick to escalate a disagreement or misunderstanding. Often they don’t understand how the situation got out of hand, how to calm things down or why they are so frustrated, hurt and angry.

They may also misinterpret what people say to them. Or they may not see how someone could have misinterpreted what they said.

When your child has calmed down, you can help her pick apart the situation. Doing this kind of post-game analysis will help her develop a better set of strategies to work things out the next time.

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