Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Talk about saying the wrong thing.

What you can do

Explain why saying certain comments at certain times can make your child appear insensitive or hurtful. Use specific examples to help him see how timing or context can affect the way people react to what he says.

What you can say

“Jacob, I know you were excited to tell your friends that we’re going to the big game on Saturday. Do you have any idea why the other kids didn’t seem to pay much attention to what you were saying?”

“Well, I happened to overhear Jack tell the group that his dog, Scout, had just died. Did you hear him share that news? Your friends told Jack how sad they were for him. A few kids even shared their own stories about when their pets died. But I didn’t hear you talk about anything other than going to the game.”

“Jacob, do you understand why your friends were listening to Jack and not to you? I know you didn’t mean to appear uncaring. But that’s probably how it came across to them. Would it have been a better choice to first tell Jack that you felt bad about Scout—and maybe to have waited until tomorrow to share your news about the game?”

“Doing those things might have made Jack think that you were listening to him and feeling his pain right now. By tomorrow he might be much more ready to hear your good news. It’s important to remember that friendships aren’t always about you.”

Why this will help

Children with learning and attention issues are often so focused on their own thoughts and needs that they’re unaware of the overall tone of a conversation. They can come across as insensitive because they haven’t picked up on body language and other social cues.

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