Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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How can I help my son make friends?

December 16, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I help my son make friends? | A group of children hold hands, smiling as they run through a field.

Question submitted on Twitter: My first grader is sad and says he doesn't have friends, but the teacher says everything seems fine. How can I help him?

Answer: Friendships are essential for a child's social development. You have taken the best first steps: identifying an issue with your child, and communicating with the teacher to compare notes. As a parent, you can help by fostering your child's positive social skills, an important lesson from the Through Elementary and Middle School YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book. 

To do this, talk to your child about what being a good friend means, and demonstrate these skills to your child through interactions with your own friends, and even strangers. Positive social skills include being polite, kind, trustworthy, etc. Teaching positive social skills will help your child make friends and maintain them. Then talk with your child to find out who he considers a friend, and which classmates he would like to be friends with.

Help your child find ways to make new friends and practice his social skills. Meet the parents of those children to set up play dates. Enroll your child in an extracurricular activity to meet children with similar interests. And finally, talk with the teacher to find opportunities in the classroom for your child to be paired up with those classmates he or she would like to become friends with. 

Continue to monitor your child's positive social skills and talk with your child about his or her friendships. These skills and friendships will continue to be important as your child navigates the world. 

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How can I help my teen appreciate holiday time with our family?

December 3, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I help my teen appreciate holiday time with our family?  | A teenage girl sits on the couch, ignoring her family, talking on her cell phone.

Question: My teenage daughter doesn't want to spend time with our family during the holidays. She would rather hang out with her friends and their families. How do I get her to appreciate her time with us?

Answer: You’re not alone with this concern. Many parents of teenagers have the same issue, as teenagers are in a time of transition. In order to compromise with her and keep the peace, acknowledge this growth and allow your daughter to take on a more adult role in holiday preparations and celebrations. Being part of holiday preparations will allow her to feel included and welcomed as an adult participant in the family instead of as a child. It will also validate her by showing that you recognize her transition and value the woman she is becoming. You may consider the following:

  • Ask her to choose and prepare one recipe for the holiday menu, offering help as needed. Sharing the kitchen and working on the same project will help you bond and will demonstrate that she can share responsibilities with you.
  • Start a new tradition. Your teen may feel a sense of loss for the role in the family she held as a child, or even for the level of holiday excitement and wonder that fades with age. A new tradition, such as holiday volunteering or planning a trip, can be a great way to unite the family.
  • Stay true to the family traditions your teen is still attached to. No matter how busy your family life is, or how much tension your teen brings to the family, make a point to continue the traditions that still excite her, whether it’s holiday baking, decorating, or watching classic holiday movies or TV shows together. This is a great way to reaffirm your love and appreciation.

Whatever you do, try to limit fights by working with your daughter to find happy compromises. Make it a goal to help your daughter associate holidays with fun times with parents, grandparents and extended kin, while still allowing her some time to see her friends when activities aren’t planned.

Learn more about the issues addressed in this question in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher book series. For information about making time for each other, see the Through High School and Beyond book on page 36. In the same book, read about sharing responsibilities with your child on page 40.

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