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Hi my name is Dr. Marian C Fritzemeier and I'm an education and child development specialist. I've accumulated many years speaking, writing, consulting and teaching both in the classroom and for parenting audiences. I believe the parenting process can be a fantastic and overwhelmingly fun journey with the right plan in mind. Need some help with that plan? Then you've come to the right place.

Monday, January 13, 2014

School Age Friendship Groups: Accepted and Rejected Children

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2014
Author, Speaker, Educator

The good news for parents is about 80% of children fall within the "accepted" children friendship group.1 These children have at least one friend who protects them from experiencing long, lonely days in school.

The 20%. However, the remaining 20% are part of the "unclassifiable" group; they may have no friends at all. Psychologists are concerned about this bottom 20% on the social ladder. In this blog, we'll look at the three sub-groups, typical friendships characteristics of each, and how parents can help these struggling children with friendships.

Neglected Children. The first sub-group is the "neglected" children who tend to be very shy, comprising five percent of children.1 Although the group sub-title sounds negative, these children are very close to their families and typically good students. They simply don't attract much attention from peers. Parents mainly need to accept their child's social style which was explained in my last blog, Parents Can Help with School Age Child's Friendships.

Controversial Children. The second sub-group, "controversial" children, also five percent, possess some traits peers like, but they also have annoying habits, such as: being a poor sport or poor hygiene.1 These children need to be coached to give up annoying habits. Some parents think that by addressing these issues their children's self-esteem will suffer, but these children are already suffering silently. If children knew how to change their behavior, they already would have.

Adult Guidance. They need adult guidance and specific strategies for improving these habits. It can begin with a simple observation question. "Today when you were shooting hoops, did you notice that your friend was angry when you kept hogging the ball? What can you do differently next time you shoot hoops?" When parents gradually and consistently work with children on specific annoying behaviors, most children will improve over time.

Rejected Children. The last sub-group, the "rejected" children contain 10% of children.1 These children lack important social skills in a wide variety of areas and may not cooperate or know how to respond in certain situations.2 "Rejected children are either overly aggressive from the start and react to being rejected with more aggression, or they become depressed and withdrawn." 4

Missing Skills. Whereas the "controversial" children need some help on certain social issues, these children must be taught missing skills.2 If not, this child will become a rejected adult. Maybe you know someone like this. They don't pick up on social cues and are observed as "misfits" at work and in social settings.

Life Skills. Now is the time for parents and schools to help these children develop the all important life skill of making friends. School administrators are a great resource to find out about arranging friendship groups that help rejected children make friends. "Just 6 to 8 meetings of such a group can have a significant positive impact. Administrators should also implement anti-bullying policies and train teachers to create a socially safe environment in the classroom."1
Rejected, angry children may need counseling.

Help Finding Friendships. Both "rejected" and "controversial" children need help finding friendships in other venues beyond the school day. Spending time with neighbor kids or cousins is one way to begin. Children are in close proximity for observing interactions combined with "coaching" later. Joining a youth group, like Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, or 4-H are other possibilities. Community service projects are great ways for children to learn social skills while helping others.

Extra Guidance. When your children are in the last two sub-groups, they will need extra guidance, direction and support. Overtime, your children will benefit from better friendships. Remember, "It only takes one real friend to alleviate the worse aspect of loneliness."1


1. Let's Be Friends: Help your child's friendships flourish — even in the face of difficulty. Scholastic Parent, www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages.../lets-be-friends. Accessed 10/17/2013.

2. Children's Health: Peer Pressure, www.healthofchildren.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

3. Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/ gossip-girls-1-1966564-s. Accessed 4/18/2014.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friendship Books for School Age Children

Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013
Author, Speaker, Educator

The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends, Natalie Madorsky Elman & Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Q-Mart, 2003.

Let's Be Friends: A Workbook to Help Kids Learn Social Skills and Make Great Friends, Lawrence Shapiro Ph.D., Instant Help Books, Raincoast Books, 2008. (Activities for Kids)

Friendly Facts: A Fun, Practical, Interactive Resource to Help Children Explore the Complexities of Friends and Friendship, Margaret-Anne Carter & Josie Santomauro, Autism Asperger Publishing Co., 2010. Aimed at children 7-11.

The ADHD Workbook for Kids: Helping Children Gain Self-Confidence, Social Skills, and Self-Control, Lawrence Shapiro PhD, Instant Help Books, Raincoast Books, 2010. 
Socially ADDept: Teaching Social Skills to Children with ADHD, LD, and Asperger's, Janet Z. Giler, Jossey-Bass, 2nd edition, 2011.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Parents Can Help with School Age Child's Friendships

Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2014
Author, Speaker, Educator
What kind of friends do you want for your school age child? That simple question is complex for many families. The topic brings up memories of parent's school friendships and feelings about their children's friendships.
Pride or Problems? If the child is well-liked, parents burst with pride. If their child is unpopular, they cringe and hope no one notices, especially their child. But the child does know if he or she is popular or not.

Benefits. Children with friendships have a greater sense of well-being, a better self-esteem, have more fun at school, and have fewer problems as adults.1 In this blog we'll look at some simple ways parent's can help their school age children develop healthy friendships as we being the new year.

Your Child's Social Style. Developing a loving, accepting, and respectful relationship with your school age child provides the foundation for helping your child build friendships.2 This means respecting your child's social style.1 Some children make many friends easily while others make friends more slowly and may only need a few good friends. Some are social butterflies while others are more quiet and reserved. Avoid pressuring your child to make friends at your pace and style.

Child's Temperament. Consider your child's God-given temperament, level of activity, and stress.3 Some children need quiet time, a chance to slow down, be alone, or even relax rather than spending all their free time with friends. Other children like being on the go with friends and activities.

Eyes are Watching. Remember that your child is always observing you. Model appropriate social behaviors, empathy with others, and demonstrate reciprocity. 1, 4 Reciprocity for school age children means what they do for each other.1 Friendship is a two-way relationship. Keep in mind a New Testament Bible verse, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."5

Variety of Friendships. Demonstrate kindness by keeping a wide variety of friendships, such as with the elderly, shut-ins, the homeless, and those living in poverty.  Your children will learn
that a wide variety of friendships are valuable.

Group Status. It is also helpful for parents to know their child's friends and where their child stands in the group.4 "Your child doesn't need you to manage his social life, but he does need you to provide a steady, supportive environment for his social experimentation."4 If your child needs help in making better friendships, provide direction and support. For example, maybe your child needs to learn to take turns or ask others to join in play. "...research shows that children who were more well adjusted socially had parents who were more involved in their children's social activities."1

Don't Go "Back to School." And lastly, in helping your child make friends, avoid going back to school yourself. 4 This may sound like, "When I was your age, I..." or stories of regret. Every adult has painful memories of childhood friendships.  Friendship challenges are a natural part of our children's social development,

Separate Self From Child. Try and separate your feelings and needs from your child's. "Children can experience undue anxiety when parents pressure them to behave in ways that meet parents' needs more than their own." 3 While making friends is not always a smooth road, these ideas for helping your school age child make friends can make the road less bumpy.

1. Do Kids Need Friends? Anita Gurian, Ph.Dd and Alice Pope, Ph.D., NYU Child Study Center, www.education.com › ... › Social Emotional DevelopmentFriendships‎. Updated July 9, 2010.  Accessed 10/17/2013.
2. The Importance of Friendship for School-Age Children, Millie Ferrer-Chancy & Anne Fugate, University of Florida IFAS Extension, ©2002. Reviewed 2007. edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy54.Accessed 10/17/2013.
3. Friendships: Fostering Children's Friendship in School Age Children, www.families-first.org/.../tips.cfm?...Friendships...Fostering%20Children'... Accessed 10/17/2013.
4. Let's Be Friends: Help your child's friendships flourish — even in the face of difficulty. Scholastic Parent, www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages.../lets-be-friends. Accessed 10/17/2013.
5. Ephesians 4:32.  New American Standard Bible (NASB).
www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-American-Standard-Bible-NASB/. Accessed 12/23/2013.
6. Image from: http://cdn.morguefile.com Alex_Mau. Octavio Lopez, 173251.