Use the "Sandwich" Technique
Author and consultant Faye de Muyshondt suggests employing this technique when teaching your child how to approach certain conversations, especially when providing feedback or addressing an issue. In basic terms, this method involves “sandwiching” the feedback or problem in between a compliment and a positive conclusion. For example, if your child feels that a friend treated their unkindly, your child could start with a positive comment like, “I value your friendship, and you’re always so nice to me,” then continuing with, “The other day when we were at lunch, you yelled at me and that made me sad.” This can be followed with, “I really want to keep being friends, so next time, just tell me if I’m doing something that bothers you and we can fix it before we start yelling at each other.” For more ideas on what to say, visit our conversation starters guide.
Practice Active Listening With Your Child
Role-playing can be an effective way to help your child learn how to be a respectful listener. Begin by asking their what they did this weekend, and as they are talking, make sure to fidget around and not give their eye contact. Once they are done, tell their to describe your body language and ask them how it felt when you were not listening to her. After this you can model what active listening looks like, and ask them to practice listening to you. When they are done, give their feedback like, “You made really good eye contact with me and you seemed to be very interested in what I had to say.” Make sure to talk to their about why active listening is important, and help their come up with strategies for how your child can be a better listener to others.
Talk to Your Child About "Put-ups"
Before bedtime or while commuting to school, talk to your child about put-downs and how they hurt people. Ask them to give you examples of put-downs they may have heard or said to others, and how they think these insults made people feel. Tell them to spin those put-downs around and come up with put-ups that they can share with others next time to make them feel better or more confident about themselves. You can also find examples of put-downs in the media. Use them as a jumping-off point for a discussion about how the situations could have been handled without making others feel unnecessarily hurt.
Read Books About Resisting Peer Pressure With Your Child
Books like Say Something or One of Us by Peggy Moss can help you spark a conversation about the importance of resisting negative pressures when trying to fit in with others. Once you have read the book, talk with your child about the forms that peer pressure can take (remember that peer pressure can be positive, too, if their peers are steering them in the right direction), and ask them what their friends do that makes their want to do good things. You can also ask them how it feels to be pressured in a bad way and how your 4th grader dealt with it. Work together to identify negative pressure and figure out ways they can stand up for themselves the next time your child finds themselves in a negative peer interaction. This may also be a good time to discuss tobacco, alcohol and drug prevention strategies, as it is never too early to teach your child how to avoid these influences. For more age-appropriate book examples, see our reading list.
4th Grade Relationship Skills
During the late elementary school years, your child is discovering more about themselves and learning how to deal with relationships and peer pressure.