We all get to choose who we want to be friends with, and who we don’t want to be friends with. This means that at some point or another, your child will want to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends in return. This can be hard to come to terms with, but there’s really only one way around it: Back off, and find somewhere else to initiate a friendship wherein feelings will be reciprocated.
But what about that murky gray area where your kids have friends, but they feel like they are outsiders? When they feel like the third wheel?
And what happens when your children are the ones who are making others feel left out?
Groups of three are particularly difficult because someone always feels a bit like an outsider, so it's worth starting a conversation with your kids about how they show up in friendship triangles—whether they are on the inside or the outside.
The strategy for being on the inside is...
Sometimes, hard as we try, the words we say to our kids just are not effective. For whatever reason, they don't resonate with our kids. When we say them, our kids feel annoyed instead of inspired. They think we are lecturing them, or they think we are not very aware.
And if you think about it, I bet you can come up with a few phrases that your parents repeatedly said to you that always rubbed you the wrong way.
We can be more effective parents if we ask our kids what these words and phrases are. Perhaps your 11-year-old son is tired of hearing you say, "When I was a kid ..."
He will tell you that times have changed since you were a kid and that he is a different person than you are. As well-intended as the advice is, it goes in one ear and out the other ear because your son discounts it as irrelevant and out of touch.
Of course, we know that you have wisdom to share with your child, but this method of conveying it is ineffective with your child, so trying a new tactic might...
Conversations are the backbone of a relationship. Conversations that are deep and authentic result in relationships that are close and long-lasting. When kids know how to have great conversations, they can build strong, supportive relationships.
Knowing how to have great conversations is a skill—one that can be learned. A good way to start teaching this skill is to teach your kids to ask great questions.
When kids learn how to ask great questions, they can start interesting conversations. And perhaps more importantly, they can start new friendships. Great questions get people talking. They invite people to open up and they allow the questioner to show that they actually care about the answer—that they are really listening.
If your children learn this skill, they will be perceived by their peers as interesting, curious, and engaging. They might also become the allies to the shy kids, who will deeply appreciate someone taking the time to...
One Resilience-Based Parenting question that comes up a lot is: What should parents do about social media?
It seems like kids change their behavior when they get on social media. They get snarky. They get aggressive. They use language they wouldn't necessarily otherwise use.
So parents are left with just taking it away. They don't know what else to do.
But when we just punish our kids, they resist. And what we want for them, ultimately, is to be able to use social media responsibly, in a way that serves them.
When a classmate insults your child, what should you say?
Question: During a play date, my friend’s seven-year-old daughter announced: “I’m fat! Look at my tummy! Why does it stick out?”
We were all horrified, especially because she is tiny—maybe even underweight. I think she was just saying it to see our reaction. What should our reaction have been?
Answer: Here is a great mantra to remember when children say something concerning:
Stay calm. Be curious.
Stay calm because sometimes the adult’s reaction is much, much worse than the problem, and it gives the child too much attention for something that might not need attention. Beyond that, responding in horror to issues of body size or looks—either through gasps or words—communicates to the child that you believe being “fat” (or “ugly” or whatever the word might be) is something to be terribly upset by—and this can cause a cascade of problems down the line.
What if the child later struggles with weight?...
We all hope that our children confide in us. But sometimes, they might feel afraid to tell us what is really going on.
Or, they might feel embarrassed.
Here's a great way to keep the lines of communication open.
Let your kids pick out a journal they love. Tell them that if they ever feel afraid to tell you something, they can write it in the journal and leave it under your pillow.
Promise them that you will do your best to write your response on the next page of the journal and leave it under your child's pillow.
Of course, there may be times when your children disclose something that requires a one-on-one, in-person conversation.
But often, you can save your children a little embarrassment or anxiety by simply letting the conversations occur in a journal. It will help your children open up and continue to confide in you as their lives become more and more complex.
If you like this tool, check out Resilience-Based Parenting, where we provide 52 tools for raising...