Q. Several weeks ago a girl in my 10-year-old son's study group sent him an e-mail saying she hates him because he's annoying and didn't contribute much to their project—though he feels he did his best. Since this girl is a class leader, my son now believes everyone hates him. How can I boost his confidence and encourage him to be friends with the other kids again?
A. Forget making friends with the queen bee for the moment and focus on the teamwork issue. First, get a copy of the project guidelines and, with your son, review his work. If it looks like he didn't do his part, have him explain why. Did he understand the assignment? Was someone in the group dominating so much that he didn't see the point of trying? Did he just flake?
Then it's time for you and your son to meet with the teacher. Your son should explain the situation, take responsibility for his actions if necessary, and show the girl's e-mail to the teacher. From there, the two of them must decide how to proceed.
Now, on to the girl. Your son needs to address her straight up and demand that she talk to him directly when she's angry about something. Finally, let him know that he's a success for taking any of these steps—because how many adults do you know who can do these things?
Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.