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Publication #FAR0038

Guidelines for Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems 1

Diana Converse and Kate Fogarty2

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Every child faces problems with their friends and peers at some time. They may be losing a best friend to a new group of peers or fighting with a friend. While painful, these problems are a normal part of growing up. With their parents' support and guidance, children can learn to solve problems on their own.

Sometimes parents rush into solving problems for their children, but sometimes all children need is for their parents to listen to their problems with understanding. Before you start giving advice, make sure your child actually wants and is ready for your ideas for solutions. Listen carefully and openly. Stay away from criticizing, belittling, or even talking about a similar experience of your own.

When the child is ready to work on the problem, help your child identify what the problem is and invite her or him to come up with a list of possible solutions. Go over each idea and talk about the possible consequences of each one. Ask what he or she thinks sounds like the best solution. Talk to him or her about how they're going to put the solution into action or practice what they're going to say or do. Even if your child's solution isn't the one you would choose, let her or him use it. Recognize that just as you survived ups and downs with your friends and peers, your child will too. And remember, most of the time, helping your child think through a problem is the best help you can give.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Brooks, J. (1999). The process of parenting (5th ed.). Mountain View, CA.: Mayfield Publishing Co.

Ferrer, M. (2002). The importance of friendship for school-aged children. Gainesville: Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Retrieved June 7, 2007, from

Hamner, T., and Turner, P. (2001). Parenting in contemporary society (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Oesterreich, L. (1998). Getting along: When I'm angry. Retrieved January 14, 2003, from

Thompson, M., Cohen, L. and O'Neill Grace, C. 2002 Mom, they're teasing me: Helping your child solve social problems. New York, NY: Ballentine Books.



This document is FAR0038, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 163 and published February 2008. Revised May 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Diana Converse, Extension agent III, Hillsborough County, and Kate Fogarty, assistant professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.