Category Archives: Friendship

Making And Keeping Friends

Back to school! It is an exciting time of new backpacks, new shoes, new teachers, and new friendships.

The academic aspect of school is a top priority for parents. But a successful school year also depends on your child’s ability to make and keep friends. A child earning straight A’s, but feeling socially isolated, may find going to school a daily challenge. Friends enrich our lives, increase our self-esteem, and provide moral support when life is difficult. And from a developmental perspective, the ability to form successful peer relationships is a critical life long skill.

When I work with students, I explain to them that there are three basic “secrets” for making and keeping friends:

  1. SHARE! Try to keep an extra pencil in your backpack to share if someone needs one. Or if you see that a peer doesn’t have a snack, offer to share some of your chips or crackers (if food allergies aren’t an issue).
  2. No gossiping or spreading rumors! If you have nothing nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. The person who is being talked about will ALWAYS find out who started the rumor – always.
  3. Be a positive person – Try not to complain, give your friends compliments, and be interested in other people’s activities.

Over the years I have collected advice about how to make and keep friends from my students. The following are some of their very wise suggestions:

  1. Be yourself. Everyone will like the real you.
  2. Always stand up for yourself and others.
  3. Be clean! Brush your teeth, have clean clothes and clean hair.
  4. Get involved – play a sport, participate on or off stage in a theatre production, or join student council.
  5. Remember: a conversation is 50/50. You talk for half the time and the other person talks for the other half. Try not to talk too much or too little.

The reality is that some kids just have a harder time fitting in. Impulsive kids often act in ways that inadvertently cause obstacles for friendship such as struggling to take turns or controlling their anger if they do not get their way.

If you notice that your child is struggling socially, try to practice building skills at home. For example, practice taking turns during a family board game and explain that friends at school will expect this behavior.

Another suggestion is to meet with your child’s teachers as they will have great insight into your child’s peer interactions and may also be able to suggest classmates for after school playdates.

If your child has a playdate at your home, take some time to prep for the event. Talk with your child about what it means to be a good host. Have your child choose some games or activities in advances and teach your child that it is good manners to let the guest make the choice of what to play with first. Also, serve a fun snack to make the playdate  feel special. Research has shown that children will usually only remember the last 15-20 minutes of an event, so if there is a rough patch in the middle of the playdate, you can step in to ensure that the playdate ends on a positive note.

I know that worrying about your child’s social skills can be overwhelming and I am here to help. If you would like support in this area, please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

Warmly,                                                                                                                                                                        Jeri


Valentines Day in High School: The Possibility of Romance….

               “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.”

Valentine’s Day in high school often takes on the adult aura of the holiday. While teens enjoy the thrill and excitement of a possible new romance, there is also additional pressure. Your child may feel nervous about this aspect of high school or feel sad if his feelings for someone are not returned. Parents may also worry that their child’s romantic relationship is going too fast. Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity for parents to share their values and expectations regarding dating as they address these issues.

If your high school student isn’t interested in the romantic aspect of the holiday, suggest alternative activities. Your child and her friends can bake treats to be delivered to a local shelter. Or teens can visit an animal rescue organization and share their love with abandoned dogs. Or perhaps a bake sale to raise funds for heart disease.

Pro-Tip: Teach your child that Valentine’s Day is a holiday to show both love and appreciation. Have your child give Valentine’s Day cards to their college counselor and guidance counselor to show gratitude for their support. Other worthy recipients are the teachers who wrote your child’s Letters of Recommendations in their college applications

If preparing for Valentines Day is causing you stress, let’s talk about ways to increase your sense of well-being. Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at      

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                Jeri 

Valentines Day in Middle School: Drama!

                               “If you were a Transformer, you’d be Optimus FINE.”

Valentine’s Day in middle school is pretty much exactly as you imagine it: awkward, drama-packed and hormone-fueled. Navigating the holiday can be tricky for middle schoolers, especially for those in their first year out of elementary school. Because middle schoolers have five or more different classes, it just isn’t feasible to give a Valentine to every student in your child’s grade. Most schools solve this dilemma with candy grams that can be purchased or a Valentine’s Day dance. This means that the main topic of conversation at the lunch tables in the days leading up to February 14 is who-likes-who and who-is-going-to-the-dance-with-whom.  

Eleven to fourteen year old kids can feel incredibly stressed and anxious around Valentine’s Day. Due to the wide range of maturity levels in middle school, some students are thrilled at the idea of having a boyfriend or girlfriend, while others are overwhelmed at the thought of a romantic relationship. There are also the inevitable hurt feelings when feelings are unrequited or an invitation to a dance is turned down. You can assist your child with the navigation of these socially choppy waters by sharing your own middle school experiences so that your child can begin know that they are not alone in their experience.If your child really wants to give Valentines to close friends, one suggestion is to mail them so as to avoid any hurt feelings at school.

Pro-Tip: If your child is in a school club or afterschool sport or activity, suggest that they bring a treat for everyone in the group as a way to bring back the sweetness of the elementary school all-inclusive style Valentine’s Day.  And again, share the holiday with the people at your child’s Middle School who offer daily assistance: the school nurse, attendance office personnel, librarians, and PE coaches.  

If preparing for Valentines Day is causing you stress, let’s talk about ways to increase your sense of well-being. Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                              Jeri 

Valentines Day in Elementary School: Love is Everywhere!

       “Do you have a Band-Aid? Because I skinned my knee when I fell for you.”

As you drop your child off at school on February 14, thank your lucky stars for the genuine kindness of elementary school teachers. The general rule is that a child must bring a Valentine for every member of their class. This is a golden opportunity to talk with your child about kindness and inclusiveness. For arts-and-crafty parents, the holiday is a fun opportunity to break out the markers, stickers, and construction paper and let the creativity flow freely. And fear not parents who are not handy with a glue-gun, Valentine’s Day cards are not graded; your store bought cards are perfectly fine.

Something to keep in mind is that for students with reading and writing challenges, having to write all of their classmates names can feel like an impossibly hard task. Have your child start a few weeks ahead of February 14, and only work on 2-3 cards a night. If your child has reached his limit after one card, so be it. One suggestion is for parents to write the classmates’ name in glue and then have your child sprinkle the glue with glitter. Or type and print the names on labels and have your child stick the label on the card. Keep in mind that the idea is for your child to enjoy the holiday and not for it to feel like one more homework assignment. It is fun to add a small piece of candy to your card but if your school has a no-candy policy, possible non-edible treats are stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, and small party favors.

Pro-Tip: Spread the love by making extra Valentines for your child to deliver to your school’s unsung heroes. Your school custodian, bus driver, crossing guard, nurse and front office receptionist will be truly grateful. 

If preparing for Valentines Day is causing you stress, let’s talk about ways to increase your sense of well-being. Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                Jeri