“You can’t play with us!”

Nothing cuts deeper than a child coming home to report that other kids don’t want to play with him. A friend’s 9-year-old daughter came home sobbing the other day because one child told others not to play with her so the whole crew didn’t want her as part of any other the teams. What a mean thing to say.

The heartbreak in her eyes was just too much to bear and I wondered whether there is anything we can do as parents to make the situation better for our angels when the reality of life hits them – meanness of the world. Firstly I was upset that a young girl would be that mean and gang up against another child, but then again you can never really understand playground politics. But I know this young girl to be sweet so maybe something had happened before and we did not get the full story from the little girl.

As a parent you want to confront the other kids and find out what the problem but then again maybe not. Eish, being a parent is just not easy as we want to take all the hurt from our little ones. How do you force other kids to play with your child if they do not want to? I told the mother that maybe it was time to instil some confidence in the child.

Give age appropriate life lessons like telling her that in life that “not everyone will like you and there are mean people out there”, even though this might be a difficult concept to grasp for little ones. You can’t make friends for your child unfortunately unless you create a “cool kid with cool toys” to attract other kids’ attention or interest but I wonder if that is sustainable.

In some places you have children who play together most of the time but when it comes to birthday parties, some kids don’t get invited and that exclusion can hurt the child. Sometimes you wonder what goes through in the other parent’s mind when that happens. However, we have to accept that we parent differently. It is better to teach your child to deal with situations rather than try to make the situation work to her favour. This will help her in the future with problem solving and social skills.

When other kids don’t want to play with your child you might take it harder as a parent because we don’t want to see them hurt. How can you stand back while seeing your child’s self-esteem being crushed? Can you afford to? Learning to build friendships is one of the ways children develop into well-rounded, emotionally healthy human beings but the process can be challenging. Talks on self-love are also important where you do not let others define you but all in child speak.

How have you dealt with a situation where your child has been excluded?

Read more by Masanda Peter.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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