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Christine Gazulis PhD
Clinical Psychologist


711 D Street, Suite 207 

San Rafael, CA 94901




For Parents

When To Contact A Child Psychologist

Parents may seek the services of a child psychologist when their child exhibits any of the following:

·         Seems depressed or anxious

·         Isn’t sleeping well

·         Complains often of physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches) when there is no known physical cause

·         Refuses to go to school

·         Develops a strong, sudden fear of something (eating certain foods, being in the dark, being separated from a parent)

·         Seems without energy or motivation

·         Has poor grades

·         Does not seem ready to enter school or the next grade

·         Is involved in any self-harming activity

·         Is extremely moody or aggressive

·         Has gotten into trouble with the law or with school officials

·         Has experienced the death of a family member or friend

·         Has experienced social problems (rejected by peers, is quirky or different, is a loner)

·         Regularly gets into fights or arguments with peer group or adults

·         May be using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate

Some or all of the following may be part of a “treatment plan” for your child:

·         Psychological testing to assess personality, learning differences, cognitive functioning, and underlying emotional factors

·         A behavioral contract where parents and the child agree to certain contingencies for school and home behavior

·         Individual psychotherapy for the child

·         Family therapy that includes parents and the child

·         A medication evaluation 

·         A wilderness program or out-of-home school placement

12 Friendship Skills Every Child Needs

Popularity should not be confused with sociability. A number of studies in recent decades have shown that appearance, personality type and ability impact on a child’s popularity at school. Good-looking, easy-going, talented kids usually win peer popularity polls but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee they will have friends.

Those children and young people who develop strong friendships have a definite set of skills that help make them easy to like, easy to relate to and easy to play with.

Here are twelve essential skills that children have identified as being important for making and keeping friends:

1.  Able to share possessions and space
2.  Can keep confidences and secrets
3.  Offers to help
4.  Accepts other’s mistakes
5.  Is positive and enthusiastic
6.  Can start a conversation
7.  Can tolerate losing and can be a polite winner
8.  Listens to others
9.  Can maintain a conversation
10. Can ignore someone who is annoying you
11. Cooperates with others
12. Gives and receives compliments freely

Friendships skills are generally developmental. That is, kids grow into these skills given exposure to different situations and with adult help. In past generations ‘exposure to different situations’ meant opportunities to play with each other, with siblings and with older and younger friends. They were reminded by parents about how they should act around others. They were also ‘taught’ from a very young age.

Arrested development

The NEW CHILD grows up with fewer siblings, fewer opportunities for unstructured play and less freedom to explore friendships than children of even ten years ago. A parenting style that promotes a high sense of individual entitlement rather than the notion of fitting in appears to be popular at the moment. These factors can lead to delayed or arrested development in these essential friendship skills, resulting in very unhappy, self-centered children.

Here are some ideas if you think your child experiences developmental delay in any of these essential skills or just needs some help to acquire them:

(1) Encourage or insist that kids play and work with each other: Allowing kids the freedom to be kids is part of the message here but parents have to be cunning with the NEW CHILD and construct situations where kids have to get on with each other. For some kids “Go outside and play” is a good place to start!!

(2) Play with your kids: Interact with your kids through games and other means so you can help kids learn directly from you how to get on with others.

(3) Talk about these skills: If you notice your kids need to develop some of these skills then talk about them, point out when they show them and give them some implementation ideas.

Kids are naturally quite ego-centric and need to develop a sense of ‘other’ so they can successfully negotiate the many social situations that they find themselves in. As parents we often focus on the development of children’s academic skills and can quite easily neglect the development of these vitally important social skills, which contribute so much to children’s happiness and well-being.


Copyright 2008, Christine Gazulis, PhD, All Rights Reserved