My youngest daughter graduated high school with high honors, but we couldn’t celebrate the 13 years of hard work because of COVID-19. Shelter-in-place orders meant all kids missed out on time with friends, senior trips, proms, graduation ceremonies, and other wonderful, irreplaceable moments. It’s unfortunate that a pandemic caused our kids to miss out on a lot. But what about those times when kids are left out when there isn’t a pandemic?
There are times when your kid isn’t invited to a party, has no one to sit with at lunch (including my daughter one year in middle school), or isn’t chosen to participate in teams. This hurts the hearts of both the children and their parents. When your kid isn’t invited or left out, here are 3 things dads need to do.
Affirm your child’s identity.Remind your children that their worth isn’t defined by what other people say about them or do to them.
When our kids are hurting, it’s a natural instinct to react to the source of their pain in anger. However, retaliation just makes a bad situation even worse. So I teach my girls what I was taught: The best response is living well. Show your kids how to grow from the experience, process the pain, use it to gain empathy and compassion for others, and ultimately, become a more well-rounded person. Remind your children that their worth isn’t defined by what other people say about them or do to them.
They need to get it out. Allow your children to vent freely without a lecture. What they need is love and care. They need you to witness and validate their pain. Don’t look for a quick solution—there isn’t one. This is about whether you have the strength to sit with your children and witness their pain. If you’re seeing signs they need to talk, like aggressive sarcasm, lashing out in anger, and frequent moodiness, be sure to carve out time to be fully present for them. It’s always important to be a good listener as a parent.
Develop their social skills.
People are drawn to others who have confidence, passion, and skill sets that are interesting. Help your children develop the social skills necessary to fit in easier. There are a few ways to do this.
- Roleplay with them. Have your child pretend to be the person they don’t get along with while you play the role of your child. Model ways to communicate more effectively and use proper body language.
- Teach them how to ask questions. The best way to get to know someone is by getting them to talk about themselves. Help your child find common interests with others.
- Develop their passions. When a child, or anyone, is passionate about a topic or skill and has developed it to a point where they are confident, that’s a social asset. It will draw others of like mind. Teach your child the difference between arrogance (which pushes people away) and confidence (which draws people in).
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 4 Important Things You Can Do When Your Child is Being Left Out.
Sound off: How have you responded when your child has been excluded?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt left out? How did it make you feel?”