Thursday, May 3, 2012

when your child doesn't fit in...


This is a subject near and dear to my heart....
My nine year old son came home from school last week very downcast and solemn.
When I prodded him to tell me what was wrong, he admitted that a group of boys at school didn't think he was "cool."
'I'm not cool,' he said. I asked him what makes boys cool. He said that he wasn't fast enough and the boys never picked him to be on their team during recess.
oh. that.
Well, I tried to lift his spirits by telling him what his strengths were, but that didn't work. He still felt left out.
I encouraged him by telling him that he has a few really good friends and having one or two great friends is better than having a whole bunch of 'cool' kids to hang out with. Again...not what he wanted to hear.
I gave him a BIG giant hug and told him that I loved him and that he would always be cool in my book.

I was never the 'cool' kid either. Maybe I should have talked to him about that. Maybe...

Below is a blog post by Laura Polk (designer, author, blogger, and so much more). She has a few tips on how to handle this type of situation...






It’s enough to break a mother’s heart.

Your child comes home and declares that no one likes him. Or worse, you witness him being rejected by those he’s trying to befriend. Maybe it’s a maturity thing. Maybe your child is one of a kind. Or maybe their choices set them apart. But, for whatever reason, they don’t seem to fit in with the kids in their peer group.

Because we are made for community, feeling like we don’t fit in can be very disheartening. It’s instinctual to be part of a group, and being able to fit in gives us a sense of security, safety, and confidence. But, even as adults, we suffer through this. In fact, everyone feels as if they don’t belong at some point in life.

With that in mind, if you find this happening to your child, I encourage you to remember:
Don’t overreact. Early friendships ebb and flow. While your child is left out one day, he may not be the next day. Give it a little time.


Talk it out. Take time to hear your child’s side. If they are hurt by the reaction of others, let them express that. Use that time to talk about respecting others feelings so that he begins to see that not only are his feelings valid, but that he can manage them. Allow them to get it out without criticism. Keep it lighthearted.

Just one. While, as parents, we may feel the need for our children to have “lots” of friends, they may be happy with just one. Help your child to identify just one person that they have things in common with, who might make a good friend. Think outside of his normal circle. Maybe there are children in a nearby neighborhood, someone from church, or another activity that they enjoy.

Reassure. Remind your child of all the things that make him unique. That he is deeply loved by you, and by God. Talk to him about what great assets these things are, even though at his age, others may not recognize them as such. Talk about times you’ve felt left out, and how everyone feels that way at times. Show him that he’s not alone.

Teach them how to be a friend. The older our children get, the more we tend to assume that they can handle things. The truth is, not everyone is adept at making friends. Talk with your child about what being a friend means. Make sure that they understand that it goes both ways. Kindness and empathy are two key actions to building friendships. Help him take small steps toward more confident friendships.

Don’t let them form a grudge. Being hurt by peers can cause children to isolate themselves and choose not to participate when they are eventually given a chance. Teach your child to forgive those who hurt him, so that he is free to give and receive love to others. Remember that our own Savior was rejected by those around him, forgave them, and loved them anyway. That's friendship in love, sister.

You can’t fix it. Accept this for what it is. Getting too involved will only increase the stress your child feels over the situation. Teach by example that you can’t change everything, but that you can work hard to fix the things you can.

Romans 12:10 says:
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

9 comments:

  1. this made me cry!!!!! praying for him, and for you, sweet mama. hugs!

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    1. you know this has been an issue with Nick for quite some time...but it's not only in school, it's at church! I just cannot imagine it happening at our church. but there it is. so sad. i wonder if parents are aware of it.

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  2. my goodness, no...i had no idea. :( i'll be paying more attention now though...

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  3. Mare, I have found the same thing with Jesse, at school and church. It is heartbreaking, especially when they start to think someone is their friend and the next day (or week at church) they suddenly don't exist to this person. It is tough to explain to them. I have been praying for Nick for a while and will continue to. I hope and pray he finds a true blue friend. I am hoping/praying Jesse finds a/some real, true friends at his new school. Love you!

    Heather

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  4. I was never a "cool" kid in school (another reason I'm not "running" to have a FB account, LOL!). I liked your blog post as well as the one you referenced -- those suggestions are really the best way to deal with the situation. As parents we definitely can't "fix it" (as much as we would like to), but we can choose to respond in a way that will help our children to be confident in who they are and how God made them.

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  5. Praying for your baby. Great advice for grown ups too. Relationships are ever changing. Navigating through it all is tough. I remember how it felt as a kid and looking back I understand it a little better. People have issues. All people, even little people. God has to be the center of relationships and love covers. I found out that kindness towards a difficult person is like dumping coals on their head. The coals signify a burning love that helps to melt a hard heart. Easier said than done.
    Especially for children. My kids have had struggles and talking things out and reminding them how Jesus sees them and God doesn't make junk and Loving on them big time helps. My 20 year old now understands that he was better off NOT being in some circles where he was rejected. Thank God! Sorry for being long winded.

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    Replies
    1. Sherry...you are spot on! love you too!

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