An expert gives advice on what parents should do and NEVER do upon realizing that their child suffers from social exclusion or that “nobody likes” him or her.
Kate Walton, a former public school teacher who has developed very effective anti-bullying strategies for schools, and who speaks to schools and universities on the topic of “The Power of Human Kindness.” A mother of two, Walton is also the author of the young adult novels about bullying, “Empty” and “Cracked.”
Have you just found out that your child has no friends and/or gets socially excluded? An open line of communication, says Walton, is crucial.
“Talking and truly listening to your child not only builds trust and confidence, but, if the situation changes and the lack of social acceptance becomes a problem, the child can express their feelings and share their thoughts in a safe environment with people who love and respect him/her.”
Don’t Make this Huge Mistake
“Assuming the social exclusion is their child’s fault is a dangerous assumption for parents to make,” says Walton.
“There are too many variables at play. The best a parent can do is excavate the situation through discussion—with the child and his/her teachers, counselors, etc.—and move forward based on what is discovered.”
You can’t force your child to just go out and “make” friends any more than YOU can magically feel wonderful about including a person in your life whom you find uncomfortable being around.
Yes, there’s a lot of truth to that age-old saying: Kids are people too!
There’s the story of a girl, Kristee, who was invited over a classmate’s house, let’s call her June.
Well, Kristee (adult now) can’t really remember why she declined June’s offer, but somehow, Kristee’s mother found out.
Kristee doesn’t recall if June told a teacher and then the teacher told Kristee’s mother, or if June found out Kristee’s phone number and spoke to her mother.
What Kristee does remember is that her mother scolded her and made her call up June and accept the invitation.
She has no memory of what happened after that. The memory stops with her mother lashing out at her and not even bothering to find out WHY she didn’t want to go over June’s house. Maybe June was just a rude girl.
Maybe it was merely a case in which Kristee felt that she and June didn’t think alike enough to spend time together.
Maybe Kristee feared not living up to June’s expectations.
Maybe she feared that June would find her boring. What a shame that her mother never asked WHY.
This reaction by the parent is not unheard of, but the strange thing is that the very parent who’d do this would, certainly, decline a lunch date with a coworker they didn’t feel comfortable around! Yet when their kid declines an invitation, it’s a crime!
If you, as the parent, don’t exactly have friends crawling out of the woodwork, or if none of your coworkers seem to want you hanging out with them during lunch, at the water cooler or after hours…then ask yourself if it’s fair that you try to force your socially excluded child to make friends.
And if you ARE popular, again, recognize that there’s any number of reasons why nobody seems to want to be your child’s friend. Do not be critical.
A mother of two, Kate Walton is also the author of two young adult novels about bullying, “Empty” and “Cracked.”
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.