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Regular Features

Dr. Steven Richfield provides articles on many different aspects of raising a child with ADHD.                                   

Each month we our advocate will be answering questions from our visitors about yours and your children's rights in the educational system.    

A mother is trying to help her teenage son learn anger management.   

Five great ideas for motivation, including The Shoe Race, Trading Places and more.  

Organize your child at home, and maybe find some tips that will help you as well.  

Headlines about ADHD, Learning Disability and Mental Disorders

Study on ADD and TV
The recent study published on watching television between the ages of one and three and the possible link to ADD/ADHD did not take many considerations into account. The author of the study even admits that he cannot conclude that television watching and ADD/ADHD are linked.

Read the Article

Parent Coach Archives


The Parent Coach: When Friend Becomes Foe

by Dr. Steven Richfield

A parent writes, "Our son and daughter have trouble holding on to friendships. Things start off fine but often lead to trouble. It seems that the closer the friendship becomes the more likely it will end due to one problem or another. It's one of those mysteries that my husband and I just don't understand and would like to help them overcome. Any ideas?"

Friendships in childhood hold such promise but may also suffer from much fragility. Common interests and compatibility bond kids together but can also opens them up for others to peer inside. Sometimes this leads to secrets revealed, misplaced trust, and a host of contradictory reactions. It's easy for strong feelings to get stirred up since friendship intensifies the meaning behind interaction, raising the bar of expectations, and sets the stage for disappointment and retribution.

Certain kids are more prone to the "hot and cold friendship" pattern due to the high expectations they bring into the relationship. If a child expects their friend will never share personal information about them with anyone else, they are in for a rude awakening. If a child expects their friend will always remember to include them when making plans with others, disappointment awaits them. When talking about a "best friend" these facets may be further heightened by even more agenda.  If your child seems ill equipped to cope with the ups and downs of friendship consider the following coaching tips:

*~* There are many developmental forces at work that parents can make their kids aware of. The need to win approval, appear funny in front of a larger group, or hide a softer side of personality, may underlie why your child comes home with complaints about a friend. Should you hear, "I don't like hanging out with him/her unless it's just the two of us," suggest to them that kids often act differently depending upon the circumstances. Explain what it means to "take things personally," i.e., reach a meaning in your mind that the friend doesn't like them anymore. Encourage them to expect inconsistencies in their friend's behavior depending upon circumstances, and to tell themselves, "I may not like this behavior but it doesn't mean my friend doesn't like me."

*~* Consider whether your child's expectations may be unrealistic.  Some kids measure themselves and their friends according to a strict code of loyalty and allegiance. If they behave that way it seems reasonable to them to expect others to follow suit. If they utter absolutes such as, "I would never have done that" or "I would always do that," high expectations may be responsible. Discuss the importance of making room for their friends'  mistakes or to overlook things that they might not have done. Offer examples of how adults have disappointed or frustrated you but the friendships endured. Explain how having a realistic perspective means considering all the good things a friendship brings to life especially when bad things happen.

*~* Repairing the tear in a friendship may require good verbal assertive skills. When things go wrong in a friendship some kids can't get "over the hump" simply by reframing their expectations or talking it over with a parent. The best remedy is to bring the matter up with their friend. This presents a significant hurdle for some kids who are anxious or inhibited about discussing such issues. Suggest they might have trouble in the beginning but will probably feel much better after talking to their friend. Give them the exact words to use and practice together in order for them to develop confidence in their verbal assertive skills.This type of friendship repair allows their friend to bring up issues that have bothered them, so it's important for them to be prepared.

*~* Consider the possibility that you may have unwittingly contributed to their "friendship maintenance" problems. Without realizing potential damage, parents may reveal sensitive information about their child or the family to other parents, who then let it slip out to their kids, and so on from there. Also, if children have been exposed to strong parental judgments about others they may carry this into their relationships. Another contribution is when parents create rules for their children's friendships that are based upon wanting to "save face" among other parents rather than allowing their child the appropriate freedom to make choices. If any of these are operating, consider re-evaluating.

Dr. Steven Richfield is a child psychologist in Plymouth Meeting. His column appears monthly. He can be contacted at 610-238-4450 or