Accepted and Rejected Children in School-Age Friendships

gossip-girls-1-1066564-sby Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2014

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either overly aggressive from the start and react to being rejected with more aggression, or they become depressed and withdrawn.” (1)

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 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 with 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)

Sources:

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.

How About Some Positive Peer Pressure?

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013learning-the-rules-909359-s

Although the last five blogs highlighted parenting tips to help their school age children resist negative peer pressure, it is essential to remember that peer pressure isn’t always negative. Positive peer pressure assists school age children with reinforcing skills.

An important example is demonstrating appropriate social behaviors. You may hound your kids about their manner with little results, but when their friends make comments, they often listen.

“That’s gross.”

Take for example, body functions, like inappropriate belching. “That’s gross,” friends may groan. Or maybe your daughter doesn’t like washing her hair. A friend may comment, “You’re not going to the birthday party with your hair like that.” Of course not, and the hair is washed, styled and off they go.

Changing

Peers can also motivate positive personal changes. (1) Maybe your daughter is struggling with math. Her friend offers to lend her a hand. Or possibly your son wants to play a sport but hasn’t joined a team before. A friend may join the team with him. Perhaps your daughter is organizationally challenged. A peer can help arrange her school binder.

Belonging

Peers can rally round your child to maintain self-confidence and a sense of belonging and meaning. (1) Kids usually choose friends who are similar to them. This helps children feel like they belong to something beyond their families. Having good friends with similar values provides fun times together and helps children feel more confident.

Volunteering

Positive peer pressure can also influence peers to volunteer, work towards becoming more “green,” staying away from drugs and alcohol, and thriving in academics and goals. (1) Even amongst school age children, natural leaders will guide peers to make a difference.

Opportunities

Check to see which non-profit organizations allow school age volunteers, such as food banks, homeless shelters, or animal rescue organizations or shelters. Some kids help save our environment. Other children challenge peers to stay away from drugs and alcohol or do well in school. When parents hear about negative peer pressure, keep in mind that peer pressure can also become a very beneficial asset for you and your child.

Source: Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

 

Suspend Judgment: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Suspend Judgment   

Another tip for helping your school age children reduce negative peer pressure is suspending judgment when your child confides in you about his/her peers. 1 Sometimes the “friend” is actually the child him or herself so watch what you say. Your goal is to learn more about the situation by keeping communication open. Become an expert on asking open-ended questions. For example, “Sounds like Matthew’s really struggling. What could you do to help him through this tough time?”

Source:

  1. When Peer Pressure is Good For Your Child, Carolyn Hoyt, Good Housekeeping, Women.com Networks, Inc.

Awareness of “Virtual” Peer Pressure: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013victoria-and-the-laptop-1019022-m

Another parenting tip for helping reduce negative peer pressure for school age children is to become aware of “virtual” peer pressure and intervene early. A few months ago when I prepared this material for a group of school age parents in Ceres, California, I became distraught about the potential negative consequences of technology.

Everyone Knows

“Children can reject and blackmail others, encourage hate groups and ostracize others instantly. In the past, only your child’s class knew if he was ostracized, today, with Facebook, everyone knows, everyone can see it and everyone reads it right now.” (1)

Collecting “Likes”

Just as financial numbers equal power for some adults, popularity numbers are powerful for various school age children. “Children collect friends and ‘likes’ to demonstrate their popularity and influence–which can be used to pressure peers with a few keystrokes.

A Bully’s Power

Behind a screen, a bully has power.” (1) Bullying has expanded way beyond the school walls. I can’t count the number of television programs and movies I’ve watched about cyber bullying. Children can view so many negative comments and hatred online that it is easy for them to believe that saying things like this is okay. It eventually normalizes “bad” behavior. (1) And this bad behavior gains attention.

Using Technology

So as parents, do we prohibit our children from using the Internet? Some parents do, but the benefits of correctly using technology far outweigh the negatives. Here are five simple ways parents can help protect their children online.

Ways to Protect Online

  •  Connect to your children’s accounts immediately. Control their passwords. Don’t be passive. If you begin monitoring when they’re young, they’ll get used to it.
  • Keep computers in the family living areas where people are around. This helps remind you and your children that you are monitoring their activity. Role model this open accountability standard by using your computer in the same way.
  • Teach your child to use the computer correctly. There are so many fun options for them, keep them busy with learning activities.
  • Periodically check the search bar and view the site history and cache. Teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable for your family. What are warning signs that they are heading towards “dangerous ground”? Here’s one potential warning sign: The cache is empty when you view it!
  • Install a family-friendly software program that helps monitor your Internet. There are many available, even free programs. Consider using a program that reports all activity via email, rather than one that simply blocks certain words.

Feedback

If you’ve used software programs for internet safety, please post your results: good, bad, or otherwise. This can be helpful for other parents.

Source:

1. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

Know Friends’ Parents: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

small-town-1276290-mby Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Here’s another parenting tip to help reduce negative peer pressure with your school age children.

Mr. Rogers was Right

Get to know the parents of your children’s friends and adults in your neighborhood. Most children attend elementary schools in the neighborhoods where they live; therefore, many of your children’s friends will live close by. Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Reduce Crime

In an age of automatic garage door openers where neighbors can come and go without interacting with others, how can you get to know your neighbors? One way is to begin a Neighborhood Watch program with the help of your local police or sheriff department. Neighborhood Watch is built on the concept that knowing your neighbors helps reduce crime. Crime reduction appeals to many people living right near you.

Fun Ideas

National Night Out (NNO) is celebrated the first Tuesday in August. Communities across the United States are encouraged to plan an evening to get to know their neighbors. In Modesto, California, a city in Central California, finds that NNO grows in popularity every year. In many communities like ours, National Night Out is sponsored by the city’s police department.

McGruff & Horses

Every year is different, but community service representatives arrive at these neighborhood events scattered around the city. One year two mounted police officers paraded about on horses. Another year firemen showed off their fire truck. A favorite was the year McGruff, The Crime Dog, arrived in a black limousine to remind us to, “Take a bite out of crime.” McGruff even has a web page for teaching kids safety featuring games, videos, advice, and downloads. 1

Neighborhood Events

Block parties and other neighborhood events we’ve organized, such as holiday caroling and 4th of July dessert followed by fireworks facilitate building relationships with others and making community connections. These adults are potential role models for your children. Teenagers are possible baby-sitters. One elderly couple on our street serves as honorary grandparents to countless school age children.

Common Ground

Seek other parents who have similar family guidelines. Try talking about common ground rules, like a parent needs to be home when friends are visiting. You may encounter more families with similar values than you expect. We did. We discovered like-minded adults in every neighbored who became significant others in our daughters’ lives. Getting to know neighbors is a terrific strategy for helping your children reduce negative peer pressure.

Source:

1. McGruff, The Crime Dog. www.mcgruff.org. Accessed 12/10/2013.

Teach Ethical & Moral Values: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

my-kids-1186542-s

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.© 2013

Another tip for parents to help reduce school age children’s negative per pressure is teaching ethical and moral values that will last their children a lifetime. 1

Code of Ethics

As a college child development professor my students wrote their own code of ethics. What ethics and moral values do you live by? What character traits do you desire for your children to emulate? Your children are already learning your values and ethics by observing what you say and what you do. Do they match?

Your Children’s Values

Then consider what you consciously want them to learn. When our girls were little we began reading stories based on character traits, such as honesty, courage, and responsibility. Learning about values continues through elementary school, especially as children study historical figures.

Ethical Dilemmas

When school age children are faced with ethical dilemmas such as lying to keep from getting in trouble or telling the truth, what will they do? What about cheating or letting a friend “copy” his/her homework? Many children perceive what adults may call cheating as “helping out their friends.”

Morals

Some families rely on Biblical principles or religious beliefs for teaching morals, values and ethics. For example, what’s the difference between right and wrong? Our society teaches moral relativism. An Old Testament Proverb says, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right. 2

Sources:

1. Adolescent Rebellion Can be Quelled, www.kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail. Accessed 10/14/201.

2. New American Standard Bible, Proverbs 20:21.

 

 

Quiz: Are you a Helicopter Parent?

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2013helicptero-3-1032378-m

“Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment,” explains Indiana University psychologist, Chris Meno. (1)

She counsels “over-parented” college students on gaining independence. “Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.” (1)

Here’s a quiz to help determine if you tend to allow your child to be responsible for her actions or if you lean towards helicopter parenting. I’ve used the term “child,”but you can also substitute the word child for “teen.”

Answer each question with rarely or never; sometimes; or usually. I’m looking for 5 more questions to add to the “quiz.” If you have a question or two to add, please post a comment. Thanks.

Question Never or Rarely Sometimes Usually
  • Do you wake up your child to get ready for school?
  • Do you continually remind your child it’s time to get up?
  • Do you keep repeating, “We leave for _____ (school, practice, or church) in ____ minutes.”?
  • If your child is late, do you change your schedule to accommodate your child’s tardiness?
  • Do you take responsibility for your child’s things, like packing her sports bag for practice or his backpack?
  • Do you complete or adjust your child’s homework and/or project until it meets your standards?
  • If your child forgets her homework, music instrument, and/or project do you take it to school for her?
  • Do you allow your child to stay home “sick” because he has a project due that isn’t done or a test she didn’t study for?
  • Do you regularly call or email your child’s teacher over grades or assignments?
  • Do you make excuses for your child’s misbehavior, such as, “The referee made a bad call.”?
  • Do you run onto the sports field immediately if your child’s hurt?
  • Do you rush in to settle your child’s disputes to ensure it is settled fairly?
  • When your child fails at something, do you reward him for trying?
  • Do you wait on your child by getting her snack or something to drink?
  • Do you prepare different food because your child doesn’t like what the family is eating?
  • Do you expect your child not to do chores since school is his “work”?
  • Do you manage your child’s schedule?
  • Do you call or text your child many times a day to check in?
  • Is your child or teen your best friend?
  • Do you manage your child’s money? Allowance?

 

Peer Pressure & Helicopter Parents

unhappy-920220-sby Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

“The more you like yourself,

the less you are like anyone else,

which makes you unique.” —Walt Disney

A generation ago, I didn’t teach parents of school-age children how to instruct their children about peer pressure. But times have changed.

Unfortunately, peer pressure, is starting earlier; happening at lightning speed; on an unprecedented scale; and is fueled by social media. To make matters worse, today’s children may be less equipped to resist peer pressure, due to overprotective “helicopter parents.” (1)

Helicopter Parents Defined

Jennifer O’Donnell defines the term “Helicopter parents” “as a group of parents who engage in the practice of over-parenting. Helicopter parents are accused of being obsessed with their children’s education, safety, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of their children’s lives.” (1)

Another Definition

Another description by Indiana University psychologist Chris Meno adds, “Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.” (2)

Helping or Hindering?

Parents mistakenly believe they’re helping their children; however, their hovering and doing almost everything for their children is actually hindering them. These children cope less effectively than other children.  Since the parents have trouble setting limits for their children, the children have a hard time setting limits for their friends. (3)
Sources:
  1. What are Helicopter Parents? Jennifer O’Donnell, About.com Guide. Accessed 10/8/2013.
  2. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013.
  3. “Helicopter parents” stir up anxiety, depression. Indiana University, IU Newsroom, newsinfo.iu.edu. Accessed 10/8/2013.

 

 

 

New Opportunity for Writing

I’ve discovered a new opportunity for writing. It is called HARO, Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a network of writers who are seeking experts on topics they’re writing about. I’m responding as a child development expert to some of their requests. This is the first article I’m quoted in. Signs Your Child Is or Isn’t Ready for Preschool. Here’s a link to the article.

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1005839/signs-your-child-is-or-isnt-ready-for-preschool

“Something New” Hope Street: My Journey

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013bike-route-both-directions-logo-1416709-m

On October 5th, 2013 I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. For several months I’ve been exercising twice a week and doing some bike riding. My husband and I ride on some bike paths, but mostly I ride in our neighborhood by myself. Well, almost by myself.

Dancing in Circles. I wear a front pack that carries my ferocious Chihuahua, Grace. Despite the fact that she barks all the time at home, she’s the perfect bike passenger. She dances in circles when I ask, “Do you want to go on a bike ride?” and rarely makes a peep on the ride. I always feel safe when she rides with me.

Half-Way There. Today I’m proud of myself because I met my half way goal for my new adventure. I’ll be riding a 20 mile bicycle “Fun Ride” at Clear Lake. I rode ten miles today. We’re not discussing time here, just the distance.

I Paid for That? I’ve never done anything like this before. For those of you who know me, I’m not very coordinated and not even a teeny bit athletic. But I like riding my bike. I love to see God’s beauty and listen to the birds as I pedal along. I needed some kind of goal.

The Ride. I checked bike club rides but most are over 25 miles, so I had to start somewhere. I found this ride in a bike riding booklet. I even bought a pair of bike shorts. I never paid so much money for something so ugly. Oh, except for my hiking vest and pants when I started bird watching and hiking. I’m not sure which are the ugliest.

What About You? So I’m doing something totally out of my comfort zone. What about you? or your children? Have your children or teens been talking about something they want to do…someday? Is there something you’ve thought about trying but decided not to? Schools started this week in Modesto. A new school year is the perfect time to choose to do something new. I’d like to hear your stories of your new adventures. I’ll keep you posted on mine.