Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I can't believe that it is prom season already. I am worried because my daughter does not have a date for her special day. I don't want my daughter to go to the prom alone and feel lonely. What can I do to ensure my daughter will have a good time at her prom, even if she goes by herself? -- Prom Mom, New York City

DEAR PROM MOM: First, make sure your daughter wants to go to prom. It's fine if she doesn't. If she does, ask her if any of her friends will be going to the prom and if any of them are going solo. An option is for your daughter to go with a group of friends who would otherwise not have dates. Just as couples sometimes do, they can rent a limo and choose to spend the evening together as friends.

If she does not have other friends going solo, find out if any of her friends traveling with a date would be open to including her in any part of the evening. For example, you could host a pre-gathering where a group of friends comes to your house on the way to prom. That way they establish camaraderie in advance. At the event, they may spend a bit of time together, too.

Essentially, your daughter needs to identify someone or a group of people who will be kind to her at the event so that she does not feel isolated.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a very active 6-year-old son. He is very creative and he likes anything and everything any 6-year-old boy would like. His kindergarten teacher thinks he needs to take medicine to calm him.

Last week, my son had an outburst in class, which left some of his classmates shaken up. I went to discuss the situation with my son; he told me the kids were making fun of him and that resulted in the outburst. I think his teacher went to the extreme in this situation, and I would like to know how I should address his teacher for suggesting my child should take medicine? -- Happy Child, Unhappy Parent, Queens, N.Y.

DEAR UNHAPPY PARENT: Schedule a meeting with your son's teacher to review the situation -- including the recommendation for medicine. Ask the teacher to describe the scenario that prompted the suggestion. Repeat what your son shared. Ask the teacher if he has any tools for defusing outbursts and what steps are in place when children tease other children. Bullying of any kind should not be tolerated.

Ask why the teacher thinks your child needs medication. That is a strong statement coming from someone who is not a medical doctor. Hear the teacher out anyway. You may want to discuss the teacher's concerns with your son's pediatrician. In some cases, medication does help children. But it is also true that adequate time for daily physical activity can help to calm children down effectively. When children feel safe and heard, they often lash out less. If your child was being bullied, the other children deserve some type of reprimand as well.