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friendship-break-up

Help Your Child Through a Friendship Break-Up

As adults, we can all relate to what it feels like to go through a ‘breakup,’ and all of the subsequent feelings that go along with it. Whether it be with a significant other, a business relationship or a friendship, there are often unresolved feelings related to the situation. For children, a friendship-breakup is typically their first exposure to the sentiments of a “breakup.”

In order to be able to best help your child manage and navigate this new and scary concept, we must first consider the fundamentals of a Breakup. For starters, in order for something to ‘break-up,’ it implies that the relationship was previously intact. This means that at one point, things were going well, sometimes really well…. And then it stopped.

Here are some steps you can follow to help your child through a friendship break-up:

  1. Create a safe space for your child to express self. This can mean setting aside special alone time How To Help Your Teen With A Friendship Break-Upwith no other distractions for the two of you (or three of you if there are two parents present) to connect. It is important to be especially mindful of your facial/behavioral/vocal reactions to the things your child expresses. Your child is going to learn, based on your reactions, what is safe to share and what is not. For example, if you appear to be overly emotional about the situation, your child in the future may choose to withhold certain information as means to protect mom/dad from becoming upset, etc. If you appear to be unemotional or too blunt/direct, your child will receive the message that these types of situations do not warrant discussing.
  2. Validate + Normalize your child’s feelings. When they are expressing certain feelings and/or circumstances, it can often feel comforting for children (people, in general) to know that they are not alone in their feelings. Perhaps sharing a similar story from your childhood can help to normalize your child’s experience. In managing your reaction/s, be mindful not to minimize your child’s feelings by skipping straight to the ‘problem solving.’ This middle step of Validation and Normalization is essential so that your child can identify feelings, practice expressing and articulating them, which ultimately requires your child to practice being vulnerable—a difficult yet incredibly important life skill.
  3. Problem Solve together. I recommend to start by first asking your child what ideas/thoughts he or she may have relating to how to handle the situation. Perhaps your child has already tried to do certain things on their own. This is a perfect safe space to share those experiences and discuss and process why your child felt it did or did not work. This may often give you, as the parent, deep insight into the innerworkings of your child’s mind by showcasing for you the ideas they gravitated towards on their own.
  4. Define the word, “friendship,” together. With your guidance, it can feel helpful for children to define the term friendship. Pending the age of the child, I recommend that the child either draw pictures or write down words on a piece of paper describing what friendship means to them. This can serve as a nice visual to guide dialogue so that the child can compare his or her definition of friendship with the way they describe their current dynamic with the friendship being discussed. This will highlight any discrepancies. For example, if your child lists, “good at sharing” as a characteristic a ‘friend’ should possess, yet also identifies feeling upset that their friend never shares… this can be an area to look at a little closer.
  5. Practice positive self-talk. Oftentimes, a breakup can cause an individual to question their self-worth. For example, “Am I not good enough?” or “It’s all my fault.” By practicing positive self-talk together, you are able to set a nice example and model for your child the types of things you say to yourself to help yourself feel better. One way to do this, is to turn any negative statements—into positives!

Click here to learn How Social Groups Can Help Your Child Navigate Friendships.

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.

raising a good sport

“Good Game!” Smart Strategies for Raising a Good Sport

“Good game, good game, good game…” The image of teammates lining up at the end of a sporting event to acknowledge one another and give a hand shake is one that is well known to most. Go Hawks! Although the sentiment may not be the same for all players involved at the end of a tough game, it is a ritual that has lived on and is a vital component to being a “good sport”.

Being a good sport may be something that comes easily for some, but others could use a few pointers. As a parent, there are a few things you can do to work with your child in becoming a better sport. In Fred Frankels book, “Friends Forever: How parents can help their kids make and keep good friends,” he outlines some easy steps to helping your child master the art of sportsmanship!

Tips for raising a good sport:

  1. Take the game seriously – when first joining a team or group of friends, it’s important to take the gameStrategies for Raising a Good Sport seriously with the others involved – goofing around could show the kids that you aren’t ready to play by the rules!
  2. Avoid refereeing – instead of arguing about the rules and pointing out mistakes other kids have made, let someone else do it!
  3. Let others have fun, too – If your child is MVP, teach them to let others have a chance to win, too.
  4. Give praise – it’s important to teach (and MODEL) to your child that winning is not the most important thing- it’s having fun! Learning different ways to praise his friends and teammates is vital – things like “good shot”, “nice try” and the ever-popular “good game” are just a few examples!
  5. Suggest a new rule instead of arguing – instead of shouting out when someone does something wrong, suggest that from this point “the white line is out”.
  6. Don’t walk away if you are losing or tired of playing – teaching your child to stay until the end of a round or talking to the teammates about maybe playing something new is important before just walking away!

As a parent, if you are able to watch your child in action at the park or on the field, it can be vital to remind your child of these rules and address them as they are or aren’t happening. If possible, it is ideal to be able to call your child over and talk with them briefly about what you saw and gently remind them with specific examples. Remember, as in learning any new skill, it takes some practice and reminders! Be patient and let the art of sportsmanship live on!

Click here for more tips on raising a good sport!

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!

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.

Sensory Club for Kids - Chicago

How To Help Your Child Find The Right Friends

Helping children navigate their social environment can be challenging terms of developing self-initiation, advocacy, and flexibility skills. What is your role as a parent in facilitating the development of your child’s new friendships?

How to Help Your Child Find the Right Friends:

  1. Have your child develop a list of “friend criteria” that a peer has to meet to be considered a friend. For example, “friend criteria” may include nice, kind, asks questions of others, is respectful, and is inclusive. Thishelp you child make the right friends helps your child differentiate levels of intimacy between peers that are classmates, acquaintances, friends, and even best friends. When a child can determine positive qualities in a peer that meet his list, he can begin to ask these individuals to have playdates and increase exposure to enhance the level of intimacy. On the contrary, if a child is referring to a peer as a “friend” but this individual is not nice or exclusive of your child, this check list will help him see what a friend should be.
  2. Role-play scenarios with your child about how to initiate with another child in social situations. Develop several examples of conversation starters and follow up questions to enhance your child’s confidence when engaging with peers. Utilizing the “friend criteria” will also help your child discern if a peer is worthy of continual approaching depending out the outcomes of these initiations (i.e. if your child asks a peer to play but that peer continues to say no, teach your child to identify other peers they can play with since this individual does not meet their description of “friend criteria”).
  3. Teach your child age-appropriate communication and self-advocacy skills when expressing his needs to friends. Arming your child with calm and direct verbal and non-verbal skills can help them accurately express their thoughts and feelings to peers as well as handle any conflict that may arise.

As a parent, try to teach your children the skills to be the friends they are seeking. If a child is kind, communicative, inclusive, and compassionate, they can begin to recognize similar qualities in others.

Read here for tips to raise your child’s social IQ!







What to Do if You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friend

Picture this: It is Wednesday afternoon, and your fifth grade child runs off of the school bus and into your house. You hear an extra set of footsteps and think to yourself, “Oh how nice, he has a friend over.”  You enter the kitchen to greet him and his friend when you see the refrigerator AND pantry left open.  Food crumbs and wrappers are on the floor. Your son likes his things relatively clean and tidy.  Your son cleans up after himself. His friend must be over, and to be honest, he isn’t your favorite child.

If your child has one (or a few) friend(s) that agitate you, it may be difficult at times to manage your emotions about it, as well as to be supportive of your child’s friendships.  Read on for tips to help you deal with a friend of your child’s who you do not particularly like.

Tips to deal with your child’s friend you dislike:

  • Keep discussion about the disliked peer separate from discussions you have with, or around, your child. You are entitled to not favor any of your child’s peers, for whatever reason.  However, it is important that your child is unburdened by your feelings. You can deal with your feelings by talking with a spouse or friend about it, although it is best to choose just one person with whom to share these feelings. Talking to many people about your child’s friend makes it easier for the information to get back to your child. Writing your feelings out in a journal is a safe and effective way to ‘get out’ the thoughts you have about the peer as well.
  • Look for the positives in the disliked peer, and praise them. Test yourself, and try to come up with two things about the disliked friend that are positive. Simple things such as ‘they dress nice’ or ‘they have a good hair cut’ are acceptable. Just start by finding two positives. Once you find those positives, point them out to your child’s peer next time you see him (Ex.“Your hair looks nice today.” or “You played soccer very well last night in the game.”). Focusing on the positives will help you to feel slightly better about the peer, at least in that moment. The more times you point out a positive, the better you’ll feel about the individual overall. Read more

Supporting Your Child To Make Friends | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, our  Marriage and Family Counselor gives us some wonderful take away tips on what to do when your child tells you he/she has no friends.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • When and how to listen to your child’s social problems
  • How to respond to your child
  • What questions to ask your child
  • Suggestions and tips to help your child be more social

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m standing with marriage and family
counselor Beth Chung. Beth, can you tell us how to help children
make friends?

Beth: Sure. I think this is a really important question and one that I get
asked pretty often. In our previous segment of Pediatric TV, Dr.
Stasi was really talking about tailoring the treatment of
helping your child make friends to each child’s individual
strengths and growth areas and needs. Today I’ll just touch on
some general strategies, but I’d really encourage parents to
keep that tidbit in mind.

One really important strategy, I think, which is often
overlooked, is to really listen to your child. I think a lot of
times parents realize that their child is struggling when he or
she comes to their parents and says, “Mom, dad, I have no
friends. No one wants to hang out with me.” It can feel really
tempting for parents to say, “No, that’s not true. I’m sure you
have tons of friends,” or, “Who cares what other kids think?”
It’s a way to reassure their child, but really it can minimize
your child’s concerns and prevent them from coming to you in the
future.

Something that I would suggest is something as simple as, “That
must be really hard,” or, “I bet it feels really tough when
you’re picked last in gym. I can understand why you might feel
like you have no friends,” even if you may feel differently,
because as soon as your child feels heard and accepted, you can
move on to some problem solving. This is a really great way to
help your child to feel more empowered.

Asking open-ended questions such as, “One possible reason is
that you don’t have friends, which is why you’re alone on the
playground. What else could it mean?” Coming up with suggestions
such as, “Well, you’re new in school and the kids might have
some other friends, and they might be shy to ask you to play,”
or, “Maybe they don’t know that you want to play with them,” are
some good suggestions to offer.

Another really good open-ended question is, “How can you show
that you want to be friends?” Coming up with a list of concrete
skills, such as asking to join in a game, asking someone to play
a game with them, saying hello, or complimenting are strategies
that your children can practice at home. You can make it fun and
role play with your kids. If you’re driving to the playground,
you can say, “All right, Carrie. Today we’re going to go to the
playground and if you see two girls playing house together, how
can you ask them to play? What are two things you can do?” This
can really help your child to feel empowered.

Those are some strategies that I’d suggest. But again, it’s
really important to reach out to the school, the teachers, the
principal, the social worker, as Dr. Stasi mentioned in our
previous segment, to really tailor this to each child’s unique
needs and growth areas.

Robyn: Thank you so much, Beth, and thank you to our viewers. And
remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Cyber Bullying | How to make sure it doesn’t happen to your child!

Recent media events have highlighted the issue of bullying. A Rutgers University student, for example, committed suicide a few weeks back due to being bullied over the Internet (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/29/dharun-revi-molly-wei-charged_n_743539.html ).Cyber Bullying Girl Crying

Bullying is nothing new. Older movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club have all featured some form of bullying behavior. The key difference between bullying in the past and present, however, is in the level of anonymity – changes in technology have made bullying much more anonymous over time. Almost every child is on Facebook these days. Anyone can create an account, and the identifying information as to who “owns” the account can often be limited. The impact of cyber bullying has lead to a great deal of emotional harm as well as actual physical harm, as shown by cases like that of the Rutgers University student.

Tips to help decrease the likelihood of your child being “cyber bullied”:

1. You must closely monitor your child’s computer face time. Have a central location for the family’s computer. Keep it in a den or office room that is accessible for all family members.

2. Social media tools, such as Facebook, can serve as a great avenue for social relationships. They are not necessarily a bad thing, and you should not have your children completely avoid such avenues of socialization. However, if your child is using Facebook, it is imperative that you know your child’s login and password. Let your child know that you will be monitoring the Web site to ensure that nothing dangerous is there.

3. If your child is going to be on the site, you must be on the site yourself. Also, one requirement that you would have for your child is that he or she must be your “Facebook friend.” This way you can monitor what information he or she puts on the Web site and what information people are leaving for him or her.

4. If you suspect that someone is bullying your child, the first thing you should do is click the “Report this person” link on that person’s profile screen. This is done anonymously and will lead to an investigation to determine if that individual’s Facebook page should be censured. Also, ask your child to “de-friend” the person and find out what the situation with the bullying was about.

Bullying has always been around and likely will always be around in some format. With the changing of the times and vast improvements in technology, bullying can now be done anonymously and on the Web. Parents, you need not shelter your children from new technological advances; however, you must take these advances into account when you decide howyou monitor your children.

Symptoms and Treatment of Childhood Depression

We all know when an adult is sad and depressed – they cry easily, prefer to be alone, and can verbally express their feelings. It is often hard, however, to identify depression in young children because it often mimics other disorders and concerns, including inattention, impulsively, aggression and learning problems. Some warning signs that parents and teachers should look out for include:

Symptoms of Childhood Depression:Depressed Boy

  • Easily comes to tears, feeling sad
  • Feeling worthless
  • Not interested in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Irritable and often in a bad mood
  • Increase in aggressive and externalizing behaviors
  • Changes in sleep behavior (either sleeping more or less than normal)
  • Changes in eating behavior (either dramatic increase or decrease)
  • Decrease in energy and easily fatigued
  • Frequently turned away and neglected by peers
  • Decrease with academic performance
  • Difficulty staying still

As you can see, there are a plethora of symptoms of depression and every child who is depressed will express a variety of the above symptoms. If you notice changes with your child’s behavior and the onset of any of the above symptoms, the first thing that you should do is contact your child’s pediatrician. It is always important to identify whether or not there are medical concerns at the root of the symptoms. Read more