Sunday, May 3, 2020

Review of Why Will No One Play With Me? by Caroline Maguire


From renowned parent expert Caroline Maguire, Why Will No One Play with Me? is a groundbreaking program that has helped thousands of children struggling with social skills to make friends, find acceptance, and have a happy childhood.

Every parent wants their child to be okay--to have friends, to be successful, to feel comfortable in his or her own skin. But many children lack important social and executive functioning skills that allow them to navigate through the world with ease.

In-demand parenting expert and former Hallowell Center coach Caroline Maguire has worked with thousands of families dealing with chronic social dilemmas, ranging from shyness to aggression to ADHD, and more. In this groundbreaking book, she shares her decade-in-the-making protocol--The Play Better Plan-- to help parents coach children to connect with others and make friends. Children of all ages--truly, from Kindergarten to college age-- will gain the confidence to make friends and get along with others, using tools such as:
*Social Sleuthing: learn to pay attention to social cues
*Post-Play Date Huddles: help kids figure out what to look for in a friendship
*Reflective Listening: improve your child's relationship with their peers
With compassion and ease, this program gives parents a tangible, easy-to-follow guide for helping kids develop the executive function and social skills they need to thrive.

Book Links
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**My thoughts**
One of the most heartwrenching questions to be asked when you are a parent or a caregiver is "Why will no one play with me?" Or, "Why don't I have any friends?" For some kids, it's just not that easy to go out and make friends. They are simply lacking the skills to be able to do so. And they need help learning those skills so that they can go out and have more success in the social world. Author Caroline Maguire relies on her experiences both as an academic and social skills coach for children, plus her own memories of social difficulties as a child, to guide parents, teachers, and caregivers through helping children in their lives to develop those social skills.

Right off the bat, I was impressed with five words that Caroline tells us to remember. "If they could, they would." I guess innately, I already knew that and have always strived to teach my children using this idea. But to see those five words in print looking me in the face really had an impact. You're not going to get anywhere with kids unless you can truly understand those five words.

To help the reader better understand this child who is struggling, Caroline takes us into the wonderful worlds of science and psychology, explaining how the brain develops and how social skills develop. She illustrates the concepts with a great graphic of an iceberg showing how much there actually is when it comes to social development and emotions. She also uses several stories of children she has known, including their struggles, and ways that they were able to navigate some tricky situations.

I think one of the most important things that Caroline tells us is to be aware of your own perceptions and social skills. Also take a look at how you interact with the child and what your preconceived notions are about that child and her behavior. You get questions to ask yourself to help you better understand yourself. You also get discussion question ideas and activities that you can do with your child to help him identify how he is feeling in given situations. These answers will help you better pinpoint what is really going on and help determine a potential solution. It's imperative that you really listen and not just constantly talk at your child.

And remember that these techniques are going to take time. Nothing is going to happen overnight. It takes time to learn a new skill. It's also going to take some repetition of practicing these skills.

Caroline provides some extensive questionnaires for you to use, plus detailed instructions on how to best use them. These will help you pinpoint where you're going to start working with your child. And then you will use the appropriate "Play Better" lessons that correspond with your answers to start working on your child's social skills. You're given infographics, illustrations, scenarios, and real-life excursions that you can take to practice what you discuss and to help your child work on social skills.

I think it will be easy for parents to feel overwhelmed as they try to digest all of the information and the activities within this book. It's going to be most important to read through the book first and to identify your own social skills strengths and weaknesses, plus your own preconceptions about your child's behaviors first. Go ahead and fill out the questionnaires, but then really digest the activities that you're going to be doing with your child. You don't want to be sitting at the mall performing a social skills activities while simultaneously reading for the first time what you're supposed to be saying and doing while you are there. Again, this is all going to take time.

But I also think that as you get more comfortable in the techniques outlined in this book, you are going to find it easier to implement all of these and will get through them easier. 

Can teachers benefit from reading this? I don't think it would hurt at all. I'm enjoying learning the terminology that Caroline uses to explain some of the behaviors and skills. If a parent is working on these skills at home, it would be helpful for the teacher to use the same terminology in the classroom. And if the child is working with a professional, such as a therapist, again, it would be helpful for all adults to be using the same words. And I think parents may require some help working through this at some points. So having other adults at least aware of what is going on would be beneficial.

Teachers may also be able to adapt some of the activities in the book to their classroom. I think it's helpful to read a lot of books to arm yourself with a lot of knowledge as you approach any of your students. And those five words are always a great reminder, even for professionals to hear again.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.