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by  Nadine Briggs &  D onna Shea 

Virtually all the kids we work with struggle with some form of anxiety. We live in a social world so it makes sense that those who struggle socially would feel anxious most of the time and avoid social situations whenever possible. Often times, though, those are the kids or teens who need social skills coaching the most.

As you can imagine, convincing someone who has anxiety to try a new social scene can be quite an undertaking. Teenagers are the hardest group to convince to try a social group. We feel fairly confident based on our experience that if the teen makes it through the door, we will be able to make his or her experience good enough that they will return for the second week. It's getting them in the door that poses the challenge.

This week, I (Nadine) had scheduled a new 14 year old teen boy to come to group. His dad had called earlier in the day checking that his enrollment was all set. As the group began with no sign of the new teen, my heart sank. I figured that this loving dad was likely doing what he could to convince his teenage son to give it a try. The apologetic email I received later that day confirmed my suspicion. The boy never came and has no intention on coming to social group. Ever.

He's one that got away and it's heartbreaking for us when this happens. I hope he finds something else to pull him out of the isolation that so concerns his parents. I hope he finds something that will make it so he can apply for his first job, work successfully at group work in high school, and learn the skills necessary to live in a college dorm.

I tried everything I could think of to alleviate his anxiety about coming to try it out. I offered to meet with him alone so he could see the center without a group. I offered to talk with him via Skype or FaceTime to see if he would at least meet us. But nope. He's mad that his parents tried to force him to come and his heels are dug in. As the saying goes, never say never. I do hope his parents try again once the dust settles. I've never met him but I know that giving up on helping him work through it is not an option.


Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs are both accomplished social-emotional education specialists.  They each facilitate friendship groups at their respective centers in Massachusetts.  Both Donna and Nadine are parents of children with special needs.

Donna and Nadine offer consultation services for schools, parent groups, and human service agencies.  They are seasoned public speakers who travel across the country to bring workshops and seminars to schools, conferences and other venues. 

Donna and Nadine are certified in bullying prevention through the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center and are creators of the How to Make & Keep Friends Social Success in School Bullying Prevention Initiative that is used to provide classroom training and team-building activities at many schools.

Donna and Nadine would love to hear from you or your child if you have feedback about our books. They are also happy to speak with you about providing programming for children in your local area or just to keep in touch with you about new books and materials.

Donna Shea & Nadine Briggs | How to Make & Keep Friends, LLC | Shea 978-413-1965/Briggs 978-764-2758 | E-mail | Website

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