Ask Dr. Jean: Feeling left out


(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

How should parents, teachers and service providers respond to the childhood taunts of “you’re not my friend anymore” or “you’re not coming to my birthday party”?

Thank you.

Anonymous (Parent)

(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

I think first of all it is very important to recognize that this is very typical behaviour in young children between 5-7 years of age and doesn’t mean your child is mean or developing some personality problem.

As children negotiate the complex world of relationships outside the family they need to explore what is in bounds and out of bounds. How do you fit in with others? As a parent it is important to quietly talk to your child away from the others and ask them first “Why are you saying this” in a non-judgmental way.” There may be a very good reason for the strong feelings and THAT is what needs to be explored and learned from.

Then, you can approach how the other child is feeling when they are told they are not included. Too often we as parents jump into “F2 Mode - Find it, and Fix it” rather than stop and realize where a behaviour comes from. For example saying right away “That’s not nice, how does that make your friend feel?”. Acknowledging and recognizing, and helping your child understand their feelings is a prime directive. Then you can explore opportunities.

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