GROWING UP ADD: THE EARLY YEARS
“I Don’t Have
Expert tips for using organized
activities to find buddies.
BY FRED FRANKEL, PH.D.
Your neighborhood schoolyard may have
after-school programs open to your child,
even if he doesn’t attend the school.
> Call the scouting district office to find
the leaders of units in your area. Call in September, when scouts reorganize into new
groups. If you call later, your child might not
get into a group.
Sign up your child for
only two activities—
leave time for play dates.
THE USUAL SUGGESTION PARENTS give each other to help their children make friends is to put them in an organized activity—a team, a class, or scouts.
This is helpful, but it’s only the first step.
Research shows that organized activities by
themselves don’t improve friendships. Take
these steps and your child will have more
fun, more play dates, and lasting friendships.
Try Out the Activity—Twice
Get your child to give the activity a try. Make
it mandatory that she go at least twice, so
that she can make an informed choice.
It’s important that your child make a good
all over the field to make catches are clear
violations of this rule.
Organized Activities in
Expand your perception of “neighborhood”
to include an area that is within a 10-minute
drive of your home. Whether or not your
child attends a school in your neighborhood, you should find some neighborhood
children with whom your child likes to play.
You might even find a parent you want to be
There are three kinds of activities to consider: classes (dance, ballet, karate, science),
groups (scouts, theater, day camps), and
team sports. Never sign up your child for
more than two activities at a time, to leave
time for one-on-one play dates.
Studies show that activities for “girls
only” enhance a girl’s self-esteem better
than coed activities do. Although having
friends of both genders is desirable, it is important to encourage same-sex friendships,
since children generally segregate themselves by gender in the schoolyard.
How do you find local resources? Take a
drive through your neighborhood with your
child after school one day or on a weekend:
> Look for parks that are safe and maintained, where children of your child’s age are
playing. Go into the park office and check for
after-school programs. Many of these are
seasonal, with sign-ups starting one to two
months before the start of the season.
> Search out public and private schools.
first impression. He will not make friends if
he doesn’t follow basic rules of etiquette:
E Take the activity seriously; don’t
clown around. Be quiet and listen to the
adult instructor. Making faces or silly sounds
or whispering is disruptive to everyone.
R Don’t talk to other kids while you
are supposed to be paying attention to
the adult. This is annoying to everybody.
T Stay in your assigned area; don’t
interfere with anyone else’s performance.
Telling other children what to do or running
immediately after the rule-breaking and
quietly remind him of the rule. Secure a
promise from him to obey it. If your child
continues to break the four basic rules, pull
him out of that activity.
Rate the Adult Supervisor
Your next priority is to ensure that your
child has an experience that will build self-confidence rather than damage it. The benefits your child gets from sports and classes
depend upon the adult supervisors. In gen-
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