What This Is Like from Your Perspective

You send your child to school to learn. But quickly you can see that issues with peers or friends can impact your child’s learning, behavior and mood. When they

talk to their friends more than they pay attention in class

have few friends and focus more on that than their schoolwork

You worry about their social situation, and you also worry about what a distraction it’s becoming. But nothing you say to your child helps.


What This Is Like from Their Perspective

While some children really enjoy school, some simply don’t. And often there’s a “pull” for children to pay attention to social situations over school, especially when

…they find talking to friends more engaging than listening to the teacher

…they are worried about not being included in something that the rest of their friends are doing

…they worry that others in their class may be mean to them and they can’t focus on their schoolwork

Kids’ brains are attracted to the most “engaging” or the most “dangerous” situation. For kids some kids, friends are just more stimulating than school. For some, friends give really good feelings that they’re craving. For others, missing out on what their friends are doing seems like a threat Either way, what often captures kids’ attention has more to do with their peers than with school.



How It Usually Goes When Your

Kids Worry More About Friends Than School 

Scenario: Brooke’s mom has received two emails from the teacher because Brooke keeps talking to her friends instead of paying attention in class. 

Mom: Brooke, we need to talk.

Brooke: What?

Mom: I keep hearing from your teacher that you’re talking to your friends too much in class. She thinks you care more about your friends than about school.

Brooke: I do.

Mom: Brooke! That’s not OK!

Brooke: Mom, she’s so boring! I can’t listen to her all the time.

Mom: She may be boring, but you have to find a way to pay attention. And you definitely can’t get your friends in trouble by talking to them.

Brooke (defensive): I’m NOT!

Mom: That’s not what your teacher said.

Brooke: She just doesn’t like me.

Mom: I’m sure that’s not true. But even if it were, she’d like you more if you stopped talking so much.

Brooke: I can’t help it!

Mom: Of course you can. No one’s forcing you to talk.

Brooke: Fine. I’ll try.

Mom: You’d better try. Because if it doesn’t get better, you’re not going to your friend’s party this weekend.

Brooke: Mom!

Mom: I’m sorry, Brooke, but school is more important than talking to your friends.

Brooke: You never understand ANYTHING!

Mom: I understand that school matters. And you need to understand that too.


Both Brooke and her mom feel disconnected and angry. Brooke focuses more on her frustration toward her mother than figuring out how to behave better in school. 


How It Could Go (Better) When Your

Kids Worry More About Friends Than School 

Scenario: Brooke’s mom has received two emails from the teacher because Brooke keeps talking to her friends instead of paying attention in class. 


Mom: Hey Brooke, can I ask you about something?

Brooke: What?

Mom: I wanted to let you know that your teacher reached out to me. She said that she’s concerned that you’re talking a lot in class. What do you think about that?

Brooke: I don’t think I’m talking too much.


Brooke’s mom is unhappy that Brooke isn’t taking responsibility for her behavior. She knows that if she focuses on that, she’ll lose her cool, Brooke will become defensive, and nothing will get solved.


Mom: Brooke, I’m sure sitting in class isn’t the most fun thing to do. And your friends are right there… I could see how talking to them might be tempting.

Brooke: Ugh, she’s so boring, Mom!

Mom: What makes her boring?

Although Brooke’s mom doesn’t care if Brooke’s teacher is boring (and she knows that she probably isn’t as boring as Brooke says she is), she knows that respecting Brooke’s perspective is the best way to motivate her to take responsibility and do the right thing.

Brooke: She talks too slowly… and it’s about things I don’t care about. And Julia sits right near me and yesterday she was really upset in class, so I was just trying to make sure she was OK.

Mom: I can see the temptation.

Brooke: Yeah.

Mom: Ugh, sweetie, I know that school is not the most interesting thing for you right now. (Pauses for a few moments.) I also know that you have to find a way to get through it.

Brooke (doesn’t say anything).

Mom: I love that you care about Julia. And I know you don’t feel that way about school.

Brooke: No.

Mom (lightheartedly): I’m really sorry, but I’m not homeschooling you! (More seriously.) So your teacher is boring and you don’t care about the stuff. And you still need to focus. I had the same problem when I was young. Can I tell you what I did?

Brooke: What?

Mom: I asked my friends to remind me to pay attention.

Brooke: What do you mean?

Mom: Whenever I tried to talk to them, they pointed back at the teacher so I would listen…

Brooke: That won’t work for me.

Mom: That’s OK. You’re not me, I get that. But you do need to find something that does work for you. Because if another note comes back from the teacher, I’m going to ask her to move you away from your friends in the classroom.

Brooke: Ugh, NO!

Mom: Maybe you can find another solution then. Let me know if you want me to help you figure out other options besides moving away from your friends. I know you don’t want that.

While Brooke’s mom respects her perspective, she also sets a boundary. In addition, she shows Brooke that she’s still on her side by helping her find ways to meet that boundary.

Brooke: Fine. But I don’t want to talk about it now. 

Mom: OK. Just know that I also don’t want you to move from your friends, but that is the only solution I can think of right now that will help, so we will use it if needed. Or I’ll be here when you want to talk about other ideas. 

Brooke. Fine. 

Because she felt supported and understood by her mom, Brooke was able to hear her mom rather than defending herself the whole time. She also knew that her mom was serious about asking the teacher to move her, so she knew she’d have to come up with a solution or be OK with being moved from her friends.



Although Brooke’s mom used Calm, Connect, Correct to handle this situation,
proactive tools will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

For her to stay CALM in the moment, she needs tools to reduce her overall Yuck and tools to handle her triggers….

Otherwise Brook’s mom will immediately go into Yuck and she won’t be able to focus on finding solutions that work.

For her  to CONNECT in the moment, she needs tools to understand what’s causing her daughter’s negative behavior…

Otherwise she won’t recognize WHY Brooke is talking to her friends more than doing her homework. She needs to recognize that Brooke is actually missing some tools to be successful (for example, talking to her friends is more stimulating and she doesn’t know to re-engage with schoolwork when it’s boring) and that punishing her won’t give her those tools.

For her to CORRECT in the moment, Presley needs to know that his mom means what she says because she’s been consistent in the past.

Otherwise Brooke won’t take her mom seriously and will just keep prioritizing her friends over school.

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