Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Talk about good and bad risks.

What you can do

Help your child understand the difference between taking good risks and bad ones. Give examples of positive risk taking. These may include trying out for a team sport, doing a new type of volunteer project or asking a classmate to meet up after school in the hopes of forging a friendship.

Speak openly about the consequences of negative risk-taking. Examples include experimenting with drugs and alcohol, sexting and having unprotected sex. Cars come with risks too. Talk about driving too fast, drunk driving, texting while driving—or riding with someone who is doing any of these things.

Encourage your child to maintain a wide group of social contacts so he can be selective about which kids he chooses to spend time with. Make clear that you understand the importance of being socially accepted. But drive home the message that your child should seek acceptance through positive and safe behaviors, not dangerous ones with possible lifelong consequences.

What you can say

“Jacob, I know you want your classmates to like you and to think you’re cool. But real friends don’t encourage each other to take risks that are illegal or can put you in harm’s way. Resisting negative peer pressure is much more impressive than being someone who goes along with the crowd.”

“You’re smart. You can stop and think about the consequences before you act. And you can always use me as an excuse if you’re feeling pressured to try something you think is wrong. Keep in mind that one error in judgment can affect your whole life.”

Why this will help

Children with learning and attention issues can struggle with impulse control. They may have trouble delaying gratification or controlling their desire for new or unusual experiences. These factors can make them particularly susceptible to peer pressure.

Taking risks is an important part of growing up. But you can guide your child toward making good decisions. Setting firm and consistent expectations will help.

By keeping the lines of communication open, you can prepare your child to face high-risk situations. Coming up with a plan and practicing it at home can help him remember it and use it when the need arises.

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