My Child is Lonely, What Should I Do?

Questions involving lonely children and teens have been coming up a lot recently. Parents are struggling with the pain associated with loneliness – parents of all ages and circumstances.

Q: What Can I do if My Child is Lonely?

If you notice a pattern, i.e. your child’s friends aren’t talking to her, help her figure out the reasons why.

Lonely TeenDon’t tell, but rather ask, “How come?” If your child is coming to you and saying they are being left out – that is so much easier than the child who denies he has a problem. If your child approaches you and claims, “I wish I could have more friends,” then you now have a critical role in this dialog.

Ask yourself questions first. Are they at the age that you can help them orchestrate some sort of social life? If yes, help them to reach out more or be the host family.

Reaching out feels hard to some kids due to rejection. Others feel people should come to them. Try Social Spy to see what other kids do. Do they wait, do their mother’s arrange or do they reach out to others on their own?

Q: What if I Know My Child is Lonely but He Won’t Admit It?

“I’m fine, I don”t need a ton of friends”

You watch your child being treated badly by others and because they are desperate, they allow it to happen. Your child or teen may be pretending to have friends, but really doesn’t have many.

When you inquire, you are encountered by resistance, deflection or denial.

Start by asking questions and holding back your opinions. The more you use open questions and repeat back, the more information you will get. Some kids really need infrastructure.

Ask Questions – Using open questions and having a collaborative conversation allows your child to be more self-reflective and builds his self-awareness muscle. Talk about what makes a good friend. Ask, “Who do you sit with?” “Who do you like?” Read more social / friend questions

Avoid Shaming – Be careful not to shame your child as some kids have a sort of bravado because they feel kids are supposed to have lots of friends. This year has been hard on everyone, re-entering life after Covid may be a great excuse to explore with your child, “Who do you want to be friends with?”  Ask him, “What do you enjoy about certain friends?” The more you ask questions in short light conversations, and explore friendship and connection – the more your child can open up to you.

Review Infrastructure – Try to partner with your child to see if they have places where they are able to interact and build relationships with kindred spirits – people who share their experiences. Don’t ban friends or virtual experiences, yet, everyone needs balance.  To connect and make friends, it helps to have shared experiences. This allows you to adapt, explore and build the relationship. Without banning virtual activities, see where your child or teen is spending too much time. Do your best to limit screen interaction and try to insert real, live people into their day. Some kids make plans easily but in a post Covid world, many kids may need help to reach out more.

If you can’t seem to get anywhere, consider going to school, coaches, siblings to gain intel.  Also, share your history to help your teen open up.

Should I Set up Mandatory Socialization?

This is tricky. The answer is yes and no – it depends. Nobody likes to be told what to do. If during an open, collaborative conversation, your child says, ” I would love it if you could help me, ” then this opens the door to your help.

Structure – If your teen is hiding out, playing video games, don’t make it socializing mandatory. Instead, look at the day’s structure. Discuss how much time should be devoted to hiding out. Pick something to join. If they are young, get them involved now. State that everyone in the family will pick an activity every semester.

Don’t Push Your Agenda – Rather than telling him your concerns, explore what he wants and what is in it for him.

Spend Time Connecting – Try to do something that interests your teen. This will allow you to have relaxed chats about what he finds fun, interesting and what he would like to join.

Your Child’s Social Skills Aren’t Where They Should Be

We don’t want to enter into endless talking when you know there is a real problem. The coaching tools in Why Will No One Play with Me? have go-to activities, scripts and advice you can implement right away.

  • Join a social skills group – A lot of teens won’t go to a group, but will go to an individual.
  • Engage a social skills coach
  • Rehearse and craft messages they can use on the fly
  • Ask open questions to help them understand their role in a friendship. Ask, ask, ask.
  • Follow step by step activities in Why Will No One Play with Me?
  • Practice conversations. Collaborate.
  • Look at social skills. They would if they could.

Deeper Dive:

How Transformation Happens

What to do When Your Teen Can’t Seem to Make Friends You Approve Of?

ADHD Parents’ Palooza –  July 26 – 28, 2021, designed to educate, guide, and inspire parents of kids with ADHD all over the world.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me? and How to SEL

My Child is Hiding From Friends

Q: “My daughter seems to be sad and anxious. She is missing the bus on purpose, claiming to be ill and even asking to be homeschooled. I think she may be hiding from friends. But when I ask her she says she is fine. What do I do?”
A: I have heard this from many parents. This is an unfortunate fallout from the pandemic. Not everyone is excited to return to “normal”. Shy kids before the pandemic may have sunk further into their own bubbles.

How to Work with Your Child to Find Out What is Really Going On

  • Stay in the Conversation
    hiding from friendsIt’s easy to be rebuffed by your child and then give up. By surrendering the conversation, you are leaving your child without critical guidance. Start by finding a consistent time or a positive place to talk. Break up the routine. Spend time with your child one-on-one without siblings, and give your child the space to hear that you care and that you are worried. The time together will help your child feel comfortable opening up to you.
  • Empathize
    Information is power. Often as parents, it is difficult not to react to what your child says. We’ve all launched right into blame, punishment, advice and, then the, “I told you so.” No matter what your child says — he skipped school, is avoiding lunch, or he broke the coffee table — let go of the desire to jump in and react. Take a moment to breathe, and then, listen. The larger goal is to gain your child’s trust and is more important than any minor rule infraction. Taking a moment to step back will help your child know that he can always feel comfortable coming to you.
  • Reflect, Clarify and be Curious
    Paraphrasing what your child says and then repeating it back to him, shows empathy and helps you clarify your child’s concerns. For example, he might declare that he believes that, “people should invite me to play—I shouldn’t have to approach them.” “Reflect” this statement back to him — “What I hear you are saying is that you won’t approach anyone; they must come to you.” By summarizing and repeating his statements, you allow your child to clarify, share more information, and to tell his interpretation of the statement. By being curious and trying to understand his perspective you invite him to be comfortable opening up to you.
  • Don’t Impose Your Goals 
    Ask your child questions and listen. Do not assume you know the reasons for your child’s behavior. Do not apply pressure and impose your own goals and agenda on the situation. Getting your child to feel comfortable talking to you is about hearing and waiting and showing confidence that your child has the capacity to learn and grow.
  • Partner and Problem Solve
    Like any of us, children share more when they feel heard and understood. They can put their guard down, engage more readily in the coaching process, commit to developing their social skills, and invest in their success. When you allow for more of a two-way conversation, your child will be more comfortable opening up. Having a calm, open conversation in the heat of the moment allows your child to know that in the future, he can count on you as a partner rather than a judge.

Want Less Stress with Your Socially Challenged Teen? Learn To See the Little Wins

Help your Socially Challenged Teen

As parents of a socially challenged teen, we often look for big change and big wins. We want to hear that our teenager is “getting it” and that they are really willing to change, however, to help your socially challenged teen, recognize and appreciate that change happens with little wins, little shifts and small successes. The road to change is not paved with momentous events as in a hallmark movie and waiting for these events will only result in disappointment.  For example, if your teen is working on flexibility, they might not display frequent, regular flexibility.  Instead, they might adopt small wins around flexibility, such as changing where they sit. If they do it 3 times – it’s a small win!

For the Teen Who has Social Skills Challenges, Encouragement is the Key

Socially Challenged TeenHelp your socially challenged teen by noting and celebrating milestones or small wins. For example, when your teen overcomes their fear and invites a friend over, you can say, “You put yourself on the field, you caught the ball, you tried harder at something that’s hard for you. Those are three things to celebrate.”

To help you empathize with your teen, recall something that was hard for you. How hard was it to make progress and earn small wins? How about when only one wall was painted and there were three more to finish. Or when you started running and a half mile was so painful but eventually you worked up to a mile, then two then three?

Being a teenager is so hard, and part of that journey is learning how to communicate, self-advocate, and get along with people. This is no simple task.  The more we see the little wins, the more likely we will hit the big ones.

5 Social Behaviors That Indicate Small Wins:

  1. Nodding or a Shrugging

When your teen hesitates to respond or if you are broaching a tough topic, they may simply shrug or nod. Recognize that a shrug is actually an answer and that they are communicating with you. Being tongue tied or not being able to express thoughts via words can make parents think our teen does not hear us or is ignoring us. Don’t forget to look for the small wins and be sure to keep communication open – the better we partner, the more our child will want to communicate with us.

Looking for help on how to broach tough topics? Check out my video, Starting the Coaching Conversation

  1. Recognizing Social Cues

As your child’s coach, your goal is to help your child understand the unspoken rules of social behavior, learn how to watch for cues from other people, and work on adjusting their behavior. When you ask and listen to your teen, you learn about their experiences. Cheer the small successes as the stepping stones to bigger ones. Work with your child to develop the game plan – the playbook – and the overarching goal: for your child to make friends more easily and “go along and get along” with others.

  1. Self-Discovery

An aha is simply a moment of self-discovery. We’ve all had epiphanies in our lives. No one can have an aha for someone else; it’s an inside job. Recognize that every aha is progress – a small win. Their aha will look different than your aha, and that is OK. Don’t correct or lecture them on how they should be because this will shut down the conversation, their process of reflection, and the opening for the next aha.

Even the smallest aha is a bold expression of your teen’s  executive function bringing a picture into focus. Executive function connects the dots, and every aha is a dot in the picture. Whether your child is five years old or fifteen, she’s going to have these realizations when she’s ready, developmentally and emotionally. Coaching isn’t about ordering up the aha or telling your child what it should be. Coaching creates the space and time for her to discover this insight herself, which is the most powerful source of learning a child can have.

  1. Trying

Very few people if any move from trying to full on change. There are stages of change and the first starts with the awareness of one’s role and struggles in the social world. This awareness and noticing her own behavior. So if your child begins to express greater self awareness and seems willing to change- that is a win !!

  1. Practice

When we talk about the social behaviors that everyone needs to have, we’re referring to more than isolated performances of a skill. We’re talking about habits of “being”. In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, author Charles Duhigg suggests that a habit takes 18 to 254 days or an average of 66 days to develop.

Science tells us that the longer we hold on to perceptions and habits of thought, the more deeply imbedded they become. The brain’s circuitry— the networks of neurons and the paths they create—becomes stronger with use and weaker with less use. The brain actively prunes away the lesser used connections in favor of the more heavily used ones. In this way, your child’s story about his behavior becomes the self-talk, the inner voice that encourages or discourages him. Studies also show that in the brain, negative self- perception intensifies our reaction to negative thoughts and experiences and weakens the impact of positive ones. That’s how self-talk becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy: I just don’t fit in. I’m too stupid. I don’t . . . I’m not . . . I’ ll never. It becomes harder and harder to dig out of that self-talk rut and the behaviors that only dig the rut deeper.

For that reason, the sooner we address these stories that hold children back, the less entrenched those narratives are and the sooner we can help our kids change the story and the self-talk. Step-by-step, with incremental successes—small wins—your child builds the skills and strengthens the brain’s circuitry for positive social behavior.

Work with your teen to practice making chit chat, reaching out to others, making eye contact, holding back in a group chat or trying new things, takes time to become a habit. Partner with your teen to help him develop socially. Don’t pressure or rush the learning process. Most of all, show confidence in your child’s capacity to learn and grow.

Deeper Dive

Video: Starting the Coaching Conversation

Are you looking for help on how to broach tough topics? This video is a real-world conversation so parents can hear what a coaching conversation sounds like and how the conversation brings to light the child’s realizations and also helps the parent understand their perspective and the stories that get in the way of the child moving forward. As featured in Why Will No One Play With Me? these stories are essential for your child to address in order to understand the social world and move forward.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me? and How to SEL

What to Do When Your Teen Can’t Seem to Make Friends You Approve Of

He can’t seem to make friends, or the friends he does make, you don’t like. More than likely, you already know that banning anything rarely works. When you push, they pull. This goes for your teen’s friendships too. What is the answer? Collaboration.

What To Do When Your Teen Can’t Make Friends or the Friends are Questionable

can't seem to make friendsPeers are the biggest factor influencing teens. Your daughter can’t seem to make friends and / or may be trying to fit into a friend group that is causing her to change her behavior or make poor choices. There are all types of friends, but no one can doubt that the friend that has your back is by far a greater asset than the one who is, well let’s just say, “questionable”.

She Can’t Seem to Make Friends You Like 

What can be more troubling than watching from the sidelines as your teen engages with others who don’t treat him well? Yes, this is a rhetorical question because this is on the top of the list of parental heartbreaks.

Should you Ban the Friendship?

We would jump in front of a train to protect our kids, so why is the subtle stuff more difficult? Because it takes reasoning, patience, and a look toward the horizon. Banning will not help your teen consider what a good friendship is, nor will it bring about joy.

Plus, it will more than likely lead to a big divide in the parent-child relationship.

Increase the Chances of Being Heard

Creating a non-judgment dialog should be at the top of the list. Remember what Maya Angelou said, “’I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

By talking to your daughter about friendship, without judging or imposing restrictions, you increase the chances that she will go to you when she has problems.

5 Ways to Build Trust and Conversations Around Friendships

  1. Listen. Listen. Repeat. – this is harder than this sounds, but do your best to hold back judgement, your thoughts and the urge to jump in. Your daughter will open up more if she feels heard. By holding back judgment, you create an atmosphere in which your daughter feels safe enough to talk.
  2. Ask Open Questions – Truly understanding her, and enabling her to understand her own reasoning, is one of the best gifts you can give – to you both. As you enter the discussion, here are some questions you could ask:
  • What is it about these new friends that appeals to you?
  • What do you have in common with them?
  • How do you see your friends treating you?
  • What does an enjoyable friendship look like?
  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • Can you be that person with these friends?
  1. Understand Your Teen’s Perspective – Your teen thinks no one understands him: not you; not your spouse; not his sister; not his teachers or coach. The only one who “understands” him is his friends. The more you step into his shoes and listen, the more you can work together to meet his needs.
  2. Reflect, clarify, be curious– Paraphrase what your teen says and repeat it back to her. When you do this, you show empathy and you help both of you clarify your child’s concerns. Be curious and ask non-confrontational, non-judgmental questions.
  3. Don’t Impose Your Values – Don’t assume you understand the reasons why your daughter chose these friends. Keep your agenda in mind as you talk through the importance of friendship, but the goal is to keep your child talking, and to show her that you have confidence in her.

Keep Communication Open

Without “creeping around,” research her friends by asking coaches, teachers, friends etc. You may be misinterpreting based on your own personal biases. If there were friends from the past that both you and your teen consider as a good friend, consider creating venues for them to interact again. Give her a place to feel good about herself — an activity where she is interested, can pursue her passion, and develop a stronger sense of self.

You daughter may be choosing the wrong friends for many reasons. The most important thing is to keep the communication flowing.

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deep Dive:

Keep the Social in Social Distancing

15 Phrases to Spark a Conversation About Social Dilemmas

When should I intervene with my child’s friendships?


Social Awareness and Rejection Sensitivity

rejection sensitivity


Halloween had always been a highlight in our house. Our little kids love the costumes, the anticipation, the decorating, the planning of routes with friends – and of course the candy.

rejection sensitivityThe Halloween Popularity Contest and The Un-Invited Child

Halloween is around the corner and for many parents, this holiday now fills us with dread. Why? If our child is ignored or refused, or not invited out, or not with the friends they wished would ask them, they will sulk – or worse. Self-awareness and social-awareness are new variables added to a complex mix of invites, friends, social standing, popularity and more.

COVID19 has made Halloween even more complex. Our governor has allowed door to door activity, but we parents are still cautious. Firstly, the fear of herd mentality, overzealous mania, the lack of impulse control, and the proximity to strangers can be nerve-wracking. Secondly, many parents decide amongst themselves who their kids will trick or treat with. Finally, this trepidation of having to “Family Bubble” with unfamiliar people increases the chance that your child will be refused or ignored skyrockets.

rejection sensitivitySocial Awareness and The Perceived Slight

“Ugh! I can’t find anyone to trick or treat with me!”

After prodding, you convince your child to text a friend. He begrudgingly takes your advice and when he doesn’t hear back from the proposed companion yet sees his message or text has been received and even read, he is hurt. Of course this is painful. Yet, his self-awareness may not be tuned enough to recognize that this may not a slight. His previously strong self-management abilities erode to episodes of sulking, lashing out, stomping, refusing to talk or opting out all-together.  As parents, we may not know what is happening and are surprised by his recent snarky attitude.

Could it be Rejection Sensitivity?

Rejection sensitivity tends to make people opt out or avoid events or interactions because they are so accustomed to, and therefore dread, real or perceived rejection.

What is Rejection Sensitivity?

When you experience Rejection Sensitivity, you have a heightened reaction to a real, perceived or even anticipated event, person or situation. This reaction feels all-consuming and mammoth inside you and it’s crushing – even crippling!

When this event occurs, even if it is a small non-event to most, it feels enormous and can literally is paralyze you. This overwhelming physical sensation feels unbearable and on a scale of 1 to 10 – it is 10+! What matters here is how it makes you feel; not the actual situation.

Could you or your child have Rejection Sensitivity?

Learn more here

Relationship-Building and Responsible Decision-Making

Parents, this is where you come in. Empathy goes a long way here, and when they are able to listen, offer up some possible reasons why they weren’t invited. Open questions and reflective listening can get to the root of their feelings and help her self-manage the pain. It will also help her better understand the story she tells herself that keeps her avoiding social activities.  Collaborate on a plan to reach out to others. Keep trying until either someone accepts, attends an organized “trunk”-or-treat, or it is clear that the evening will instead consist of the immediate family only – and that isn’t so bad! 🙂

I encourage parents not to make this a huge deal. We want our kid to have something to do but it’s better to help them with larger issues than live and die on this one holiday!

Do your best to encourage fun and joy – we all need extra helpings!


Rejection Sensitivity & ADHD

Encourage Social Skills Development

I take great pride in sharing with you the information that professionals know about how to encourage social skills development in people, especially those with lagging executive function skills.

Consequently, I believe that the more information you are given, the better you can to support it.

Be Patient: Transformation happens very slowly.

As a parent, you are there all the time and their partner, but it can be confusing for both of you to navigate the social terrain. Further, this process requires an abundance of patience!

Move from “No!!” to “Hmmm?…..

Bridge to Betterment

In my book, I describe Bridge to Betterment, the process of  moving from “no thank you!” – to realization – to change.

Your role as a social skills coach is not to push, but rather to hold a mirror to their actions and help them understand how change can happen. You will constantly need to help them see things… and this is where open ended questions and reflective listening come into play.

As you move through the stages of change… you will hear them say, “I kinda wish I had done that differently…” These nuggets can provide huge information as to how they think.

Model by your own actions and talk about how communication and friendship skills requires action. Discuss the stages of friendships and learn more about which stage they are in with each friend. Use questions and reflective listening to help your child or student to agree, disagree, tell clarifying information and to realize what they are doing. Find the carrot of who they want to be and link this to social skills and friendships.

Remember – Connection requires action!    #ConnectionMatters

Deeper Dive:

How to Keep the Social in Social Distancing

How Does Social Skills Development Occur?

Everyone is Working on Something

Do I need to Teach My Kid How to Make Friends?

Everyone is Working on Something

Do I Need to Teach My Kid How to Make A Friend? I Never Needed That Kind of Support, Why Does He?

How to Nurture Social Emotional Development in Isolation



Keep the Social in Social Distancing

I’m seeing many introverts engaging more socially now due to our current, virtual world. Yay! Zoom is great for shy people as it can be less intimidating than walking up to someone in person.

Now is the perfect time to work on strategies to build your (or your child’s) social and emotional skills for when we return to “normal” in-person interactions.

The first step is to understand where you need help, and then to set achievable goals. What about interacting with others, online and in-person, causes you to avoid or delay connecting? Understanding where you need help is critical to setting up a plan.

Next, source online communities of like-minded people and in advance of the next meeting or call, practice working on these areas of concern.


Many feel uncomfortable when they use my social spy technique because we worry others are noticing us. Let me assuage your mind – they are not. Use this technique to gage the culture, make a mental inventory of people and what you KNOW about them, step into their shoes and figure out what hot buttons they have.

Next, practice making small talk. Bridge the gap from “Hi” to a deeper conversation. This is often easier in the virtual world as it can be less intimidating than real life, so practicing now is important.

Think about who in this larger group you might want to build a connection or friendship with. What invitation can you suggest to reach out to them individually? Look at their surroundings – what do the things in the background tell you about this person. Step into their shoes – what do they like?

Congrats on your desire to make friendships and connection important to you! Once you establish a connection, be sure to nurture the relationships by sending a message, calling or talking outside of the committee, school, workplace.

Remember to pick one thing to work on and every time you walk through a real or virtual door, to remember your intention, review the group and identify your role.

You Got This!


Connection is a Verb

We’ve all heard the sayings: “Money doesn’t fall from trees,” “The early bird gets the worm,” “Make new friends but keep the old.” What do they have in common? They require action! You don’t just sit on the couch and get rich (unless you are a youtuber or creating some new and improved way to work from home – stocks are super-hot now during COVID!)… but I digress…

My goal in this post is to implore you to reach out and cultivate friends. Friends come in all forms and from all places: your kid’s school, neighbors, coworkers, place of worship, online, etc. I say connection is a verb because it requires action. You can’t make someone else do something, this is up to you, and it’s especially pressing now during social distancing.

How do you make friends? It can be easy for some of us, and painful for others – just implore the isolated friend to “just call him!” What seems “easy” for you became an exercise loaded with details, dread and potential rejection.

Building the skills to make, and keep friends, takes time…. But it is Oh, So Worth It.

Roadmap to Making and Keeping Friends:

  1. Develop Social Skills – The good news is that social skills can be developed just like any other skill. If executive functioning challenges are present, it is best to address them beforehand as developing social skills may be impacted.
  2. Engage – This is an important verb, as it may produce uncomfortable feeling while you reach outside your comfort zone. Action steps include smiling, listening, texting, inviting, joining, etc. Start with small steps but keep pushing forward, the world needs what you offer. Read about Rejection Sensitivity.
  3. Interpret – Once you are engaging, you need to be aware of others’ reactions. Are they truly listening and communicating back? Do your best to interpret verbal and non-verbal language and to adjust so that each party is enjoying the encounter.
  4. Build – Rome wasn’t built overnight (I know, I know, enough with the sayings) but this is yet another example of how long-term action is required to keep long term relationships healthy.
  5. Nurture – I was just about to add how watering friendships with love is like watering a garden… but you get the idea. Reaching out, being there, truly listening, laughing, sharing are all verbs that nurture the soul.

My mission is to vanquish social isolation and to bring together connection – in all forms. I hope you will join me! #ConnectionMatters

Dive Deeper:

Read more about social skills

Download Connection is a Verb graphic

Read more about the importance of connection by Dr. Hallowell

How to really understand what’s going on in social settings

Rejection Sensitivity & ADHD

When you experience Rejection Sensitivity, you have a heightened reaction to a real, perceived or even anticipated event, person or situation. This reaction feels all-consuming and mammoth inside you and it’s crushing – even crippling!

When this event occurs, even if it is a small non-event to most, it feels enormous and can literally is paralyze you. This overwhelming physical sensation feels unbearable and on a scale of 1 to 10 – it is 10+! What matters here is how it makes you feel; not the actual situation.

Our brains are ancient, so when they perceives a threat, our body and brain go into fight, flight or freeze modes. The situation feels so intense because your brain is in “survival” mode and a deeply, automatic programmed neurological alarm is going off to warn you to get away as if  a saber tooth tiger is literally coming to eat you…

…and you go into fight, flight or freeze. This reaction – this rejection sensitivity –  can be past trauma or anticipation, but regardless, this fear causes a defensive cascade in the brain.

Future planning is the key to strategizing ways of softening or eliminating these reactions. To help avoid these intense reaction and calm your brain and body in the moment, I have invented the Intensity Meter so you can figure out How Intense Does It Feel?  How intense this reaction feels in your body indicates which strategy you need to use in order to restore oxygen and blood back to the deeper regions of the brain and calm your body.

3 Steps to Managing the Negative Impact of Rejection Sensitivity:

Step One: Figure out how typical intense triggers and events feel in your body.



Step Two: Now that you know how intense these emotions feel, you can begin to pick strategies ahead of time to use when your reaction has reached a 7, 8,  9 or 10  in order to stop that runaway cycle, and help regain control so it returns to the wise-thinking brain.  This calming is like an engine of a car that is overheated and revved up. Physical strategies cue your body that “you got this”, and there is no threat and it can stop the alarm system.

There are 4 R’s to help you manage these intense reactions:

(please send an email to me if you would like to download this tool)


Step Three: Develop everyday strategies to keep your thinking brain in charge and fend off the runaway reaction cycle. The more you intervene with a strategy when your reaction starts, the more you can avoid your body going into fight, flight or freeze.

Watch the Youtube Episode: How To Deal With Rejection Sensitivity

Read more on how to help your child build social skills

15 Phrases to Spark a Conversation About Social Dilemmas

Talking about social challenges is never easy. For most parents, the dread of how to begin keeps us from having the conversation at all. Or it turns what could be a series of small breezy chats into an epic conversation akin to a meeting of rival nations at the UN.  Some children simply won’t engage. They do a disappearing act—scattering whenever you bring up anything.

15 phrases to spark a conversation about social dilemmas and situations for your child: 

  1. “What does it mean to be a good friend?”

Teaching our children to be good friends starts with this question. Ask your child, “Who do you know that is a good friend to you?”

  1. “Who are you playing with these days?”

With a perspective of curiosity, explore what your child is doing for fun.  Don’t leap into a lecture—just gather information.

  1. “If you could change one thing about your friendships, what would you change?”

Coaching is about exploring and being curious. Refer to something your child has said about socialization, “I keep thinking about a conversation we had the other day, and you said you dread social stuff because it’s hard for you.”

  1. “Everyone is working on something. Do you want to hear what I am working on?” Share your personal challenges, then suggest, “What if we each pick something hard and we work on it together. I think it might be good to work on your friendship skills. What do you think?”
  2. You often complain about Jenny and how she treats you. How would you like her to treat you?”

Listen (just listen—don’t jump in to correct him or argue) to how your child describes social disappointments. Acknowledge what you’re hearing and follow up with, “What makes you frustrated about Jenny?

  1. “You told me the other day that being social is hard for you. What do you mean by that?”

Explore what makes your child struggle and what makes being social hard for him. Listen and collect information. Hearing his perspective can help him open up.

  1. “What are you doing well as a friend? What can you do to be a better friend?”

Allow your child to consider her role as a friend and the fact that being a friend is a dynamic activity. Rather than telling her what she is not doing, allow her to contemplate, and problem solve.

  1. “Sometimes you tell me it’s not worth trying to meet up with friends. What makes you say that? Tell me more.”

Explore her assumptions about social life and friendship. Does she tell you she’ll “never be invited,” or “it’s not worth trying to see someone,” or she wants “to keep trying on her own?” Some responses could include, “What makes you say that? How come? Tell me more.”

  1. “What are your specific strengths? What makes something easy for you?”

Everyone has different strengths. Help him look at what he is good at and what it means to be able to have social intelligence. Follow up with, “Who do you know who is good at the same things? Who do you know that is smart about social stuff?” 

  1. “What is a story we tell ourselves? How is it different from a fact? What kind of story can be helpful? What kind of story can hold us back?”

Be ready with child-friendly examples. For instance, people once thought the world was flat. How did that limit what they thought was possible and what they were willing to try?

  1. “Did I ever tell you about my experience with friendship at your age?”

You can share an example from a “friend’s child,” or you can share something from your past, telling it with detail. This helps open your child’s thought process.

  1. “I hear you say that a lot. What do you mean by that?”

Listen to the way your child describes herself in the role she believes she has in her peer group or the family. Comments such as, “I’m always the one who gets in trouble,” “I’m just the funny girl,” “I’m such a loser,” or, “They’re just stupid,” show an underlying story or narrative, she is telling herself. Ask her about those statements or little comments she makes. Some questions you can ask, “You say you were ‘being good,’ what does being good mean?”

  1. “What about friendship makes it enjoyable?” “Which friendship is enjoyable?

Friendship should be a positive experience. Help your child look at her desires for friendship.

  1. “How much do you need to participate in school activities to be included and have friends?

It takes a certain amount of “joining in” to meet and keep friends. Some children will not be social and engage in activities. Rather than causing this to be a lightning rod topic, approach it softly and make her think.

  1. “ I notice you didn’t talk to anyone at karate yesterday. I am curious how come?”

If your child isn’t a talker or able to find the words to express himself, you can say, “I notice…” and share an observation or an image. Ask if he agrees or disagrees with your perception.

For more on how to help your child with executive functioning challenges to engage socially, join me at The Executive Function Online Summit starting August 21st. RSVP now for free



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