What Can I Do If My Kid is Being Socially Excluded?

bullying3If your child is being socially excluded it can happen for so, so many reasons. This entry offers some questions to consider.

  • Is this long standing or a newer problem? If the problem is longstanding, please consider taking it to a good child psychologist. You can get a referral here. Several of the questions in this entry might not be useful to you without such assistance. If it’s a newer problem it may be one you can come to understand and remediate on your own.
  • Do you know how your child might be contributing to the problem? To ask this question is to not blame your child or to suggest that it’s his or her fault. For example, a kid might be experiencing social rejection because she has been overwhelmed by the volume of school work and has cried in class. There is usually some manner in which a child collaborates with this problem. So figuring that out can go a long way to developing a plan for remediation.
  • Is this problem worth discussing with either the school or other adults? This comes down to the severity of the exclusion. A kid not getting invited to a birthday party would probably not typically trigger involving other adults, as doing so could risk making the problem worse. However, a kid being excluded from a class activity or being physically bullied would usually be worth consulting over.
  • Does your child have at least one significant competency that she or competencehe is showing to the world? If yes, great. If no, your child might be projecting insecurity to the social world, which is like having a target on his or her chest. (Enter the word “strengths” in the search bar above to learn more.)
  • Is your child manifesting any symptom within his or her social world? Crying, being overly self-critical, being aggressive and hyperkinesis are examples of the sorts of behaviors–albeit unfairly–that can get a kid rejected. In these instances it may be very helpful to seek out a referral for an evaluation.
  • Has your child been letting others know that the rejection bothers him or her? It’s usually not a good idea to let the social world at large know that a given rejection is painful as that can provide fodder for the gossip mill.

bullying4• Has there been a dust up with one or more kids recently? These simple misfires are common, especially among girls (how you adult women survived the middle school years is beyond me). Rather than trying to get to the bottom of who said or did what to whom and why, you might arrange for a sleep over or another fun social event (e.g., a trip to an amusement or water park) with at least the other kid or kids in question. You put enough fun in front of these kids and minor skirmishes may die out on their own, assuming that’s all they were.

A few things to avoid:

√ Discussing any of these matters with any of the other kids. It’s possible to walk through such a minefield unscathed but there are just way too many ways for you or your child to get blown up.

√ Doing an intervention plan that your child strongly objects to. The only general exception to this, that I can think of right now, would be in instances when your child is being physically or seriously bullied.

√ Encouraging your child to try to fight fire-with-fire. This is different peacefrom training your kid to engage in effective social banter (e.g., how to tease back when being teased). This involves not encouraging your kid to try to out ostracize another kid or to encourage retaliation. This is like giving your kid ice cream in an effort to improve his or her physical fitness.

√ Supporting your child trying to solve this problem through social media. Yikes. Talking about a potentially explosive solution.

As I always do, let me bring out my dead horse and say: get a pro on the job if your kid is hurting over this in a serious way or if the problem is persisting. A good child psychologist can be amazingly helpful!

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