Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Work on approachability.

What you can do

Show your child how to look approachable to other kids. Talk about the importance of making eye contact and smiling.

Practice these skills by playing a game in which you and your child role-play different scenarios using different body language. Videotape her doing these things so you can watch it together and offer feedback.

What you can say

“Sofia, are there kids in your school you’d like to get to know better? You know, a big part of making new friends comes from looking friendly. If you’re having some trouble, you might want to ask yourself, ‘What’s my body saying?’”

“Look at these two pictures in this magazine. Which of the two girls looks like she’s in the mood to strike up a conversation? Which one looks like she’d rather be left alone? Which one would you approach if you wanted to sit next to someone in the cafeteria?”

“Let’s try it ourselves, and we’ll videotape what we’re doing so we can watch it together in a minute. If I stand over here with my arms crossed, staring at my shoes, how would you feel about coming over and talking to me? Would you be a little wary about approaching me? What could I do to let you know I’d like to talk with you?”

Why this will help

Children with learning and attention issues don’t always think about things like body language when they’re trying to make new friends. They often have a hard time knowing what their body language is saying to others.

Teaching your child to use eye contact and a bright smile will go a long way toward helping her look more approachable to peers. This is a good first step on the road to making new friends.

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