There is a strong yearning within each of us to belong and be accepted, whether it be part of a family or a social group. Sadly, some people are not accepted in a group because of a disability, their sexuality or culture, social awkwardness, or other pretexts. It hurts to be left out.
Distinctions are particularly noticeable in schools, where children may harass and bully others in the school grounds. Sometimes this behaviour reaches out into the cyber world where a child is harassed online in their own home, a place that should be safe. Often there is one person in a group who instigates the bullying and others join in.
Adults, with the best of intentions, will tell a child to ignore it and walk away. This doesn’t always resolve the feelings of exclusion, nor does it teach other children respect and inclusiveness. Parents are teachers and role models and it is important that we show respect in our interactions with others. Kids hear what we say about others, they observe how we connect with another. Children’s brains are like sponges, absorbing our judgements and stereotypes. Our job as a parent is to nurture and ‘grow’ our child into a respectful and happy adult.
Teach your child that they are special and unique and loveable, and she will appreciate others as being unique and wonderful also. Teach your child that the ‘cool kids’ in school are not always the ideal group to hang out with. In ‘cool kid’ groups, there can be a rigid hierarchy where one or two children are ‘calling the shots’. Show by example the value of respect, kindness and empathy. Teach your children these values and they will grow up treating you with respect also.
Your child, above all things, needs to know that you are on their side, that you will listen, that you will accept them for whoever they are or will be.
If you would like to learn more about understanding and supporting your child’s development, please contact The Northern Centre on 9334 0111 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to talk with one of their experienced Family Workers in a confidential setting.
They also welcome you to join their Dads&bubs supported playgroup which is on Saturday mornings in West Ryde.