We were put on this world to protect our children. No one warns you how hard it will be to watch them get hurt emotionally. Being excluded, getting picked on, made fun of, rejected; the list goes on and on.
I had the experience early on in my daughter’s life to fight the mama bear urge.
In junior kindergarten one the girls in the class made a sun catcher for my daughter. Another girl liked it as well. She took it from my daughter and brought it home. I desperately wanted to intervene and tell the child to give the gift back! The next day in the before school program, I initiated the conversation for my daughter. I stepped back and let her do the talking. It doesn’t seem like much, but that was the beginning of teaching my daughter to stand up for herself.
When it comes to friends and fitting in, it can be more of a challenge for some. Even if your child doesn’t have these issues, they will experience hurt feelings in more ways than one.
When our child gets hurt there are a few ways to react.
1. With anger
2. Devaluing their struggle
3. With empathy
With empathy is the best choice. It’s hard when things don’t go as planned. Don’t tell your child not to worry about it. They are worried about it! Wait to calm down yourself before talking about it. Give them a hug. Validate them.
In most cases the next steps are up to your child. If the neighbours child no longer comes over to play, don’t get involved. The parents don’t need to talk it out with the children. Have your child ask the other child what’s up. If your child didn’t get invited to a party, don’t text the parent how upset you are and demand everyone be included.
I’ve dealt with this at home and at work. One boy said the whole class got invited except him. I validated his feelings of hurt and confusion. He really thought they were friends. I asked him if he felt comfortable asking why he wasn’t invited. He followed through, and the next week told the group only three children were invited. His friend felt bad he couldn’t invite him, but he could only invite three people.
I was told about about mother of twins that demanded both twins get invited to the party. She even got the school involved. This kind of behaviour will start wars.
Life is a bitch. I remember what it was like. If I could write a letter to my younger self, I would say not to worry about those judgemental girls. I would make better friends and continue to do so into my adult life. But when you’re in the moment, living the struggle, these words do not bring much comfort. What do I do now?
Teach your child how to react. How to be assertive. How to learn from the bad things and move on. You cannot control other people. You can control how you react. This comes easier to some. It needs to be taught and then practised. Be a good role model. Then step back and let them try. It’s not an easy thing to do, but the results are worth it.