Fostering Independence in Your Teens

Working with your teenage children towards growth and independence can sometimes be a tug-of-war between providing guided support and allowing the right amount of freedom. This is blog-independence-main-landscapeespecially the case when it comes to children with special needs. Recognizing that it’s important to do a little bit of both is the key to success in independence!

Here are some proactive and reactive strategies to try that will allow you to foster independence in your teens:

Proactive Strategies  

  • Determine the Current Level of Independence

By looking at the many different areas of independence, from social interactions to daily living, figuring out where your child lies is a great starting point. By doing this you set yourself and your child up for success with directly pinpointing their areas of strength and deficit. From here, you can determine what they’ll need more support with and what they can begin completing independently.

  • Model the Behavior

One of the best ways for children to learn any behavior is through imitation. By modeling what a task looks like it gives your child the exposure and opportunity to imitate it. This can range from conversation skills and socialization to completing household chores and purchasing items.

  • Set Expectations

Setting clear expectations prior to emerging independence will give your child a set of rules to follow. With this, everyone will be fully aware of what the guidelines are when it comes to added responsibilities and freedom. Involving your child in the creation of these rules allows for an added bonus of independence and control. If they understand and discuss the ‘why’ behind the rule, they’re more likely to follow it!

Reactive Strategies

  • Provide Prompts

Providing the right type and amount of prompts will allow your teen to achieve the ultimate goal of independence, if utilized in the right way. Sometimes, too many prompts can teach your child to become prompt dependent. When this occurs they rely on the prompt to complete a task or activity and independence becomes less likely. On the opposite side, not enough prompts may teach your child the incorrect way to complete a task or activity.

Trying for independence first and then utilizing least to most prompting (below) is usually a good way to start:

  1. Vocal – Direct and/or indirect statements provided vocally
  2. Gestural – Physical movements indicating desired response (e.g. pointing, nodding, etc.)
  3. Partial physical – Minimal physical guidance using a light touch
  4. Full physical – Hand over hand physical guidance
  • Provide and Ask for Feedback

Much like including your child in creating expectations, providing and asking for feedback gives them accountability and control of their own development. Providing your child with feedback throughout their learning experience allows for progress and mastery to occur faster. It takes out guessing games and gives them exact corrective and positive information regarding their own behavior. Asking for feedback allows for growth in communication and relationship development. This gives your child a chance to be the one dictating what they need more or less of from you. Be willing to listen! When the experience is collaborative, the result is long lasting.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Bullying Warning Signs

Bullying is an ongoing concern for parents, care givers and teachers. How to tell if your child is being bullied can be difficult, as bullying can take on many forms. The act is a deliberate imbalanceblog-bullying-warning-signs-main-landscape of power; and can be physical, emotional, sexual or verbal.

Having a working knowledge of warning signs is essential for supportive parenting. If your child has some of the warning signs below, it is not a guarantee that they are being bullied. Open and honest dialogue with your children will provide more insight into the potential causes of some warning signs.

Below are a variety of warning signs that could signify your child is the victim of bullying:

  • Noticing your child has damaged belongings; this can span from clothing, to book bags, to text books, etc.
  • Unexplained physical injuries like bruises or cuts
  • Tendency to isolate from friends and peers
  • An increase in anxiety or fear related to attending school and often will explore opportunities to miss school (i.e. Excuses, faking sick, etc.)
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns; suffers from frequent nightmares, poor appetite
  • Appears sad, upset or angry when returning from school
  • Decrease in academic achievement
  • Health concerns; most often frequent stomach aches, headaches, etc.

Beginning a discussion with our children about bullying can be challenging, as many kids tend to shy away from disclosing this information. The most essential component is that as a parent you remain calm and supportive, not reactive to what your child discloses.

There are several questions below to guide a conversation related to bullying:

  • There has been a lot of bullying in the news lately. How does your school handle bullying? Tell me about a time you saw someone being bullied, or experienced it yourself. How did you handle it?
  • I’m worried about [insert behavior/symptom/action]. I’m wondering if you could tell me more about what is going on?
  • Tell me about your friends this year. Who are you spending time with, and what do you like about them?
  • Who do you spend time with at lunch and recess? Tell me about your bus rides home. With whom do you sit?
  • Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?

If your child discloses that they are being bullied, it is essential that you remain calm. Overreaction can result in regret of disclosure or a tendency to limit discussing such content in the future. As a parent, the strongest role you can take if your child is being bullied is to provide support and care, validate to your child that this is not their fault and that you are here to love and support them.

At times, children can be very hesitant about disclosing bullying due to fear of retaliation. If you notice concerning symptoms, but your child denies, it is appropriate to reach out to your student’s teacher and express concern.

The following questions may provide greater insight into your child’s experience during the school day:

  • With whom does my child interact on a daily basis?
  • Tell me about my child’s peer interactions. Which are going well? Are there any you find concerning?
  • Have you noticed any behavioral changes within my child over the past [days, weeks, months]?
  • What is one thing my child does very well in school, and what is one concern you have for my child.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, beginning dialogue and providing a safe non-judgmental space is the first step in supporting your child. If you have greater concerns, or have information that your child is being bullied, it is important that this be addressed as soon as possible. Reach out to your school, principals, teachers, and notify them of your concerns. Provide your child with support and listen when needed, and if appropriate, provide the access to a licensed mental health provider for additional care.

References:

https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/

http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_warning_signs.page

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

September is Suicide Awareness Month

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for kids, ages 15-24, and continues to be a developing concern. With roughly 1,700 adolescents annually completing suicide attempts, there has been a significant push towards increasing awareness, prevention, and support resources for students, parents, teachers and care givers. blog-suicide-awareness-main-landscape

The following outlines some warning signs as well as steps that can be taken to prevent adolescent suicide. It needs to be said that not all children who present with some of the warning signs below are suicidal, it is important that you communicate with your children and assess their individual situations and needs.

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Talking about death and dying – Discussing death can be a normative part of a child’s development, but a sudden increase or fixation of death and dying could be a warning factor
  • No future planning – As children, and adults, we plan for our futures and often discuss them with others. Individuals struggling with suicidal ideation often feel no hope for their future, and cannot express thoughts, hopes, or wishes that things could change or get better.
  • Recent loss – It is always important to support our children when they have experienced a recent loss; attuning to our child’s grieving process is an important component of supporting them.
  • Changes in sleep or eating habits – Any drastic or sudden changes to sleeping or eating habits that cannot be explained by another medical/social condition should be monitored.
  • Changes in behavior – Unexpected changes in performance at school, home, work, or with peers; often noted as “difficulty focusing.”
  • Changes in mood – Presenting as down, depressed, withdrawn, reclusive, angry or lonely can be warning signs. Some individuals also become elated or very happy prior to an attempt; emotional presentation that may be inappropriate given circumstances

Things You Can Do

Develop a positive relationship with your kids: Talk to your kids on a consistent basis about their day-to-day life; encourage appropriate expressions of emotions; provide a safe and stable home environment; spend quality time; listen without judgment.

Provide a Safe Environment: Do not keep firearms or other potentially lethal means in your home, or if necessary, keep them securely locked away without access.

Take threats seriously: Regardless if you believe this to be “real” or not, the youth is trying to express a need and reach out for support.

Provide resources and support:  For kids struggling with mental health concerns, provide access to care and support. Have access within your home to crisis hotline numbers, or emergency contacts your kids can reach out to for support.

Resources:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit: http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA12-4669/SMA12-4669.pdf

You Matter Campaign: http://www.youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

References:

Berman, A., Jobes, D., & Silverman, M., (2006) Adolescent suicide: Assessment and intervention (2nd ed.) Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 456 pp.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or 1-800-273-TALK

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (847) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Social Work

Puberty for Children With Autism

One of the most popular questions I get asked from parents of young children with autism is, “What is my child’s future going to look like?” While early intervention is a crucial part of the treatment of autism, thinking ahead to what puberty and the teenage years might look like is an important consideration, as well. Puberty and adolescence are difficult times for every pre-teen, and adding the challenges that come from having a diagnosis of autism can feel overwhelming to you, your child, and your family. It is important to go into this time with tools and strategies to help your child feel as comfortable and confident as possible, while also finding ways for your child to increase their independence in these areas.

Self-Care Skills for children with AutismBlog-Autism-Purberty-Main-Landscape

Self-care skills such as bathing, using deodorant, brushing teeth, and general cleanliness are topics that arise for every pre-teen. For children with autism, simply just stating about what needs to happen may not be enough. Saying, “You need to go take a shower,” may not have the same effect as, “It’s really important to take showers everyday so that our bodies are clean and smell fresh. This way we feel comfortable and healthy, and other people around us do too.”

Using specifics such as this may help children with autism clue in to the “whys” of cleanliness. Additionally, providing visual schedules on the steps of showering, hand-washing, teeth brushing, dressing, etc., can help your child ensure that they are completing each step of the process, while still practicing more independence than if they had a parent or caregiver walking them through the routine.

Friendships/Social Skills

Fostering friendships and forming appropriate relationships with peers and adults at the time of adolescence can be extremely challenging. At this point in life, each child is starting to develop at different times, while interests and abilities are forming at different times and in unique ways. One highly effective strategy to help children with autism understand and participate in social situations are, the very aptly named, social stories.

Social stories can be custom tailored to each individual/situation, and break down any topic clearly using pictures and simple words. For example, a child who struggles with approaching peers in a group could benefit from a social story that focuses on what to say when approaching a group, what to do after saying, “Hi,” how to engage in a simple conversation, and how to say goodbye. These steps would be broken down using pictures (either real or found online), and simple sentences that match the child’s level of understanding. At the age of adolescence, it can be very powerful to have the child themselves be a part of creating the social story so they feel ownership and understand the content on a deeper level.

In addition to social stories, engaging in role-play with peers, adults, siblings, etc., can be very beneficial in helping a child with autism know what to expect in social situations. Practicing scenarios that are likely to happen in real life can help reduce or eliminate some of the anxiety and fear surrounding peers and socialization. For example, having a child practice what to do if someone says something unkind to them, or what to do when they are invited to a birthday party can set the child up for a successful interaction, rather than a situation where they might feel apprehensive or uncomfortable.

Functional Living Skills

By the time a child reaches the age of puberty, there are certain skills that we hope to see them engage in independently. This might be taking on simple chores around the house, making themselves a snack, or taking care of a pet. For all children, including those with autism, it is important that they have exposure to these types of functional living skills, as these will benefit them throughout their lives.

Using the aforementioned social stories, visual schedules, and explaining why we wipe the tables or feed the dog are all helpful strategies, but sometimes those are not enough. Using reinforcement strategies such as token charts/reinforcement systems can be a helpful tool to ensure that your child is participating in the functional activities of the home. For example, a child may be able to earn a star or token for each expected chore completed. Once all tokens have been earned, the child can have access to a highly preferred item such as a video game or special activity.

This token system should start with a few demands, which can be increased as the child shows success. This gives a tangible means of connecting the completion of functional/expected activities to earning a desired effect.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Meet with a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst

Teens and Virtual Therapy

How Can Virtual Therapy Benefit Teens?

The pressure on teens is very high. There are social pressures, academic pressures, family responsibilities, and more. The teen years are also a very confusing time. They are a time to break away from parents, but kids this age also need their parents. The teen years are even more complex when a child faces one of the following mental disorders:The Benefits of Virtual Therapy for Teens

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Learning issues
  • Social issues
  • Family issues
  • ADHD

Teens in general feel very comfortable with the virtual world.  Many of their homework assignments are turned in virtually, and much of their social communication is done virtually. It makes sense that Virtual Therapy (also known as Tele Therapy) can be a comfortable and productive way to help support a teen with their many pressures.  For a teen who may be resistant to regular therapy, Virtual Therapy is a great way to help him get used to the therapeutic relationship and to help him see how it could benefit him.

Through Virtual Therapy, a teen can learn how to deal with his busy life by having a safe, comfortable place to share and solve problems.


Find Out More About Tele Therapy

 

impact of untreated mental illness

When Mental Illness Goes Untreated

Homelessness, incarceration, violence, suicide.  These terms bring dark and upsetting images to mind for most everyone.  You may be asking, what do these phenomena have in common?  The answer is that the chances of experiencing one or more of these adversities is increased when individuals with mental illness do not receive proper treatment.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines mental illness as “aThe Impact of Untreated Mental Illness condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood may affect and his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”

With so much variability, it seems nearly impossible to provide a truly comprehensive answer to the question: What happens when mental illness goes untreated?  However, in recent years there has been a growing amount of research studies analyzing the impact of mental health on both individuals as well as society as a whole.  The impact that mental illness can have on individuals changes throughout the lifespan.  Young children with separation anxiety, for example, likely experience significant challenges related to the transition from spending their days at home with Mom to spending their days at school.  This can take a toll on both the upset child as well as her or her parents.  An older child with depression, however, may struggle to stay focused in class, have difficulties forming and maintaining friendships, and even fall behind academically.

Although we, as mental health professionals, still have a great deal more to learn about mental illness and treatment, one fact we know to be true is that earlier detection and treatment leads to improved outcomes.  When untreated, mental health conditions can worsen and the impact on daily life (work, relationships, physical health) can grow significantly.  Often people with mental illness develop methods of coping that can have negative consequences.  The sooner individuals can gain understanding and learn to manage their mental health effectively, the smaller the impact that the mental illness will have on their lives.  After all, borrowing another quote from the NAMI website, “without mental health, we cannot be fully healthy.”     

Anxiety Disorders

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

10 Simple Calm Down Strategies For Teens

 

Adolescence is a time of major development marked by significant changes.  One change that is often recognized during adolescence is an increase in emotionality.  Some teens can be negative, moody, and difficult to communicate with.  Furthermore, hormonal changes during this period of life can lead individuals to experience strong and sometimes unpredictable changes in affect.

Due to these changes in the emotional lives of adolescents, it becomes increasingly important to help your teenagers learn to appropriately cope with discomfort.  In today’s blog, I write about strategies that teenagers can employ to help themselves calm down when feeling upset.  Feeling upset can come from a variety of stressors (and teens have lots of them!).  Different individuals respond to stress in different ways.  The strategies listed here are intended to be starting points for you and your teenage son or daughter to consider.  It’s important to remember that what works well on one occasion may not be as effective the next time.  As teens continue to develop and mature, they acquire a better sense of how to take control of various emotional states.  As humans, while we can’t always change the way we feel, we can consider our typical responses to stress and engage in strategies that can help us cope with uncomfortable emotions.

10 calm-down strategies for teens:

  1. Talk it out- Unlike younger children who are still learning to use language effectively in a variety10 Calm Down Strategies for Teens of situations, teenagers have increased cognitive and language skills that help them think about their situations and explore potential solutions. If your teenager is upset, it may be helpful to give him/her the opportunity to talk it out.  This can include identifying the problem, discussing why it’s a problem, potential solutions, and other thoughts/feelings/reactions to the current situation.
  2. Draw – Drawing is a form of expression. Sometimes when individuals get very upset, talking (as suggested above) can be challenging.  Instead, it may help some teens to draw a picture of something they enjoy, or to express on paper how they are feeling at the moment.  Some research has suggested that coloring shapes (such as mandalas) can have calming effects on people.
  3. Write – Writing is yet another form of expression. Teenagers can write about whatever they’d like.  This can serve as a distraction as well as an outlet.  It may be helpful for some individuals to keep an ongoing journal or diary and write about their day to day experiences.
  4. Read – If you’re a reader, then you know that reading can be a soothing or calming activity. Some teens, on the other hand, may hate to read.  Remember, there are many things that one can read: books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, books on tape, etc.
  5. Music – This is one of my personal favorites. The experience of music can touch the emotional side of many individuals.  Teenagers can chose to listen to a song that describes how they feel.  Or perhaps they can listen to calming, instrumental music while lying down.  Playing an instrument can serve as a great feel-better activity as well!
  6. Exercise – Regular exercise is good for us for many reasons, including mental health. This suggestion, however, speaks to exercising as a form of directing angry or upset energy.
  7. Focus on the positives– For example, make a list of things to be grateful for, or of kind acts you noticed today. During times of stress, our outlook is often clouded which makes it easy to only focus on the negatives.
  8. Change up the setting- Don’t get stuck in a rut. This suggestion is a follow-up from number 6.  It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of negative.  So, when needing to calm down, move to a different room, change the TV/music in the room, adjust the lighting, etc.
  9. Take a step back from the situation – Reflect on what is really making you mad. Often times our minds can become clouded with the many stressors of life.  It’s common for one to displace their anger/frustration on someone close to them.  (for example- A sixteen year old got in trouble at school and upon arriving at home “goes-off” on his younger brother for accidentally bumping into him.  This sixteen year old isn’t really upset at his brother, he’s upset at getting in trouble earlier in the day.)
  10. Say what you need (in a respectful yet assertive way) – Teenagers are continuing to build their self-advocacy skills. Advocating for one’s self includes speaking up when necessary and being able to appropriately request what one needs.

Lastly, parents reading this blog are urged to take a close look at your own calm-down strategies and habits.  Be sure to model how to stay in control of yourself even in the face of frustration or upset.  Do you have more ideas on ways for teenagers to calm themselves?  Please share below!


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

 

how to talk so your teen will listen

How to Get Your Teen to Talk to You

If you have a teenager at home, you may be noticing that communicating with him or her can be challenging.  As written about in a previous blog post, adolescence is a time of physiological, psychological, and social change.  We often hear of the cliché exaggeration that teenagers want nothing to do with their parents.  Well, that isn’t quite true.  It’s just that teenagers need a different type of support from their parents than they did during grade school years.  Parenting practices for children of any age relies on the relationship that parents have with their children.  Since teenagers are often interested in asserting their independence from their parents, it can feel like they’re just sprinting in the other direction.  Two things can be especially helpful during this period of development.  One is understanding what is happening from your teenager’s perspective.  The second factor is about communication practices with your teen.  The latter is the main focus of today’s blog.

Below are three considerations for getting your teen to talk to you:

  • Listen: Take advantage of what may seem like minor or insignificant conversation openers madehow to get your teen to talk to you by your teen.  He/she may want to tell you about something that happened at school, a video game, what’s going on with their peer group, etc.   By listening and showing interest in what they want to talk about, you invite your teen to share his/her experience with you.
  • Ask open-ended questions: “How was your day?”  “How has your homework been coming along?”  Instead of “Did you have a good day?”  or “Did you do your homework yet?”
    • Ask about a variety of topics and be sure that your conversations aren’t all about your teenager’s challenges or difficulties. Ask your son or daughter about his or her own interests too.
  • Don’t force it: Utilize naturally-occurring opportunities such as car rides, dinner tables, shopping trips, etc.  Make time for you to spend with your teenager at least each week.  This is not to say that each time the two of you are together you need to be having some deep conversations, but if the two of you regularly spend time together, it provides more opportunities to share thoughts, feelings, and observations with each other.  It’s okay if your teen doesn’t feel like talking sometimes.  He or she may even shut you out in a way that doesn’t feel good to you as a parent.  But remember- you’re the parent and can handle this.  Responding with hostility will likely make your teenager less will to share with you and trust that you’re there for him or her.

Do you have teenagers at home?  Or maybe you’re a parent of a son or daughter who has recently left the home to live on his or her own?  How did you manage your relationship with him or her during those teenage years?  Do you have more thoughts on ways for parents to enhance their communication with teenagers?  Your feedback is welcome below!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

motivational interviewing

Motivational Interviewing: How to Determine if Your Teenager is Ready for Change

The notion of therapy can conjure up ideas hope, support, and the development of skills necessary to instill longstanding changes. As a parent, you may have identified certain challenges or problematic behaviors that involvement in therapy can resolve, but what if your teenager does not share the same sentiments? Although there may be concrete goals and clear areas for improvement, if the client involved does not see the need to modify their behavior, change may be slow to occur. To determine if your teenager is ready to commit to change, motivational interviewing can assess if your child is willing to address the need for adjustment.

Here are the stages of motivational interviewing:

  1. Pre-contemplation: Here the client is not even aware of the presented problem and therefore is not motivational interviewingcommitted to change due to the lack of incite.
  2. Contemplation: The client is aware of problematic behavior but is cautious or uncertain about wanting to change the presented concern.
  3. Determination: The client has identified that change is something they want but are not sure how to achieve desired change.
  4. Action: The client is working towards making changes but is not stable in the change process (i.e. some changes have been made and the client is learning how to eliminate relapse to previous problematic behaviors).
  5. Maintenance: The client has achieved the changes they desired to make and work towards maintaining changed behaviors.
  6. Recurrence: The client has experienced a recurrence of the problem and works towards implementing newly acquired strategies to resolve the problem.

To evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic intervention, it is helpful to understand where the client is in the process of identification, acceptance, and desire for change of the presented problem. For example, if you determine there to be a problem with excess video gaming behavior, fearing that your child is addicted and anti-social in the process, if your child does not see this behavior as problematic, it may be hard for him to invest in change. If the child is in the pre-contemplation phase of change, sit down with him and identify the concerns inherent in the behavior (benefits and consequences of perceived changes) to help motivate the desire for change. It is important for the concerns of the child and the concerns of the parent to be transparent and in alignment to incite change.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker can help you with talking to your teen as well.

Click here to read how you can support your teen into the transition to adulthood.

childhood friendship

Help! I Don’t Like My Child’s Friend

Have you ever found yourself saying “I don’t like my child’s friend?” As children develop their autonomy and sense of self, their friendships often times reflect their interests, values, and status in the social environment. Whether it is in school, on the soccer field, or in religious school class, children are exposed to a variety of peers and have many opportunities to connect with others to satisfy a sense of stability within the social fabric of their world. Although the acquiring of peers can be a validating and comforting process, what is the role of the parent when your child has identified a “bad egg” that you just can’t stand???

Tips When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friend

childhood friendship

Help! I don’t like my child’s friend

  1. Recognize and monitor your feelings. These feelings are your feelings and not the same sentiments that your child experiences. Be cognizant of how you talk about this friend and the non-verbal language that you may communicate (not asking questions about this one particular friend, using a sarcastic tone, exasperated speech when you find out your child spent all of recess/lunch with this person, closed off posture, etc.) as these send messages to your child about how you feel about their friend. Your negative feelings may cause your child to become tight-lipped about their future interactions, therefore reducing the ability to process why this person might not be great friend material. On the contrary, your child may become awkward or cut-off from their friend but not truly understand why they are not a good fit. Check your emotions before dialoguing about this friend to turn every opportunity into a calm, teaching opportunity.
  2. Identify the value that your child finds in this friend and help them to develop more appropriate boundaries and relationships. Sit down with your child and find out what value and function this friend serves. Are they loud but nice? Impulsive yet inclusive? Are they mean yet popular? Help your child create a list of criteria that constitutes “good friends” and help them see that popular is not as important as being inclusive, kind, and share common interests. Also it is important to note that just because the friend might be loud or impulsive, does that constitute not being a good friend? Everyone has a variety of qualities and in this situation, do the good outweigh the bad as no one is perfect.
  3. Get your eyes on the situation to oversee what you perceive as negative to, in fact, determine if this person is a negative influence. Have your child invite their friend over to observe their interactions, how this person treats your child, and to evaluate all qualities to determine if your bias is accurate. Where does your bias come from? Your experiences, both positive and traumatic from growing up. Sometimes working overtime to prevent against negative experiences in your child’s peer relationships limits their bank of experiences and the lessons they can learn even from situations that may seem upsetting.

Read here for valuable tips on how to help your child find the right friends.