Parenting Tools

Back to school...and back to that tricky, sticky social scene

Now that your kids are heading - sometimes apprehensively - for the school bus once again, we're feeling a bit of that back to school angst ourselves. Will our kids like their new teacher? Will they be able to keep up in class? And what about the school social scene? Will our kids be able to handle that sometimes very mean scene...and hold their own?

In my book, Beyond Smart, I discuss ways to help our children manage these challenging social issues. Social dilemmas can be significant and can impact students in numerous ways.  Some kids become angry and disappointed with their friends, and that can affect learning. Unhappy students can decide they hate school; some may decide they don't want to attend at all.

While some kids are naturally socially savvy and know how to read social cues, other kids just don't have those skills. Here's what you can do to help your child combat hurt feelings and peer pressure:

Tell your child, "It has nothing to do with you." Someone who says mean things to another person does so based on how he or she is experiencing the world at that moment.

Help your child build a larger circle of influence. Expand your child's circle through sports, clubs and other activities with children from other schools or communities.

A child who looks to only a small group of friends at school for reassurance about herself can experience big ups and downs in self-esteem, depending on how those friends are treating her at any particular time.

Help your child know who he is, so his sense of self is not dependent on comments made by others. You can do this in everyday situations by asking your child to stop and pay attention to himself and his thoughts.

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