Bethlehem Press

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Family Project: popularity

Friday, December 7, 2018 by CAROLE GORNEY Special to The Press in Focus

Q. My pre-school daughter is always chosen last as a playmate. I think that she has good social skills for her age, but she is a bit overweight. Could this be a problem already at age four?

The panelists noted that there are two issues involved in this week’s question: a concern that the daughter may not be popular as a playmate with other children, and the mother’s linking of that concern to her assessment that the four-year-old is “a bit overweight.” Speaking to the first issue, panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo suggested that rather than assuming that the daughter has good social skills for her age, the mother should contact her daughter’s pre-school teacher to help assess how well the child is playing with other children.

The mother could also invite playmates to her home to observe how the daughter interacts with them. “Playing is important in a child’s development,” Mercado-Arroyo said. “It teaches them all the skills they need to survive in life.”

Panelist Chad Stefanyak suggested finding opportunities outside of school for the daughter to practice her socializing skills. “It could be as simple as taking her to the playground,” he said, adding that the parent is going to have to model behavior to help her daughter. For example, the mother could show the daughter “this is how you introduce yourself to someone new,” or “this is how you ask if you can be part of a game.”

In regard to the overweight issue, panelist Erin Stalsitz said, “When I heard this, I wondered if it were a problem for the child or the parent.”

Stefanyak added, “I’d be really surprised if that [being overweight] is the problem.”

“Since the mother is addressing the weight issue, it is worth taking a look at it,” panelist Pam Wallace said. She suggested the mother start with the family doctor for an assessment.

Stefanyak said involving the four-year-old in other activities outside of school, such as sports, addresses both issues. “She gets exercise to help her weight, as well as opportunities to practice her socializing skills.”

The rest of the panel agreed.

This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor, and Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh County Children and Youth. Have a question? Email: projectchild@projectchildlv.org. The Family Project is a collaboration of Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House Project Child. The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.