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Steven Richfield provides articles on many different aspects of raising a child
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.
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IN THE NEWS
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.
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
*~* 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 firstname.lastname@example.org