The hustle and bustle of back-to-school means staying busy around-the-clock. While trying to juggle all the schedules, transition and anything else that comes up, here’s one more thing to keep your eye on: social interactions.
If your child is excluding others…
It’s easy to be reactive if you notice your child seems to be showing un-inclusive or unkind behaviors. But, before you step in, take a moment to be sure bullying or social exclusion is actually happening. While no one should be required to socialize with all of their friends all of the time. It is important to teach your child to navigate social interactions in a way that is kind and respectful. Once a line has been crossed into territory that is hurtful or malicious, then it is time to teach and correct.
It is important to form a complete picture of how the social interaction in question happened as best as possible, according to Kyle D. Pruett M.D., a clinical professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. There are two sides to every story and understanding what happened and why is crucial in teaching your child the best way to respond. Teach your child to empathize with the person being excluded and form an apology based on those feelings. Dr. Pruett also recommends taking stock of your own social habits, because social exclusion or other belittling behaviors can be learned and absorbed by your child.
If your child is excluded…
If you find your own child who appears to be on the receiving end of social exclusion, it's important to remain calm. Build as complete a picture of the incident as possible before you choose how to react.
Depending on the situation, it might be a good idea to talk to your child about off-putting behavior and the subtlety of social cues that they might be missing. It is not uncommon for social issues to arise when children unknowingly participate in behaviors their piers find unpleasant or when they are unable to read social signals and persist in unwanted behaviors, according to Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph. D., a clinical psychologist.
If necessary, involve other adults. If the bullying is happening at school, Dr. Pruett recommends the best course of action might be to contact your child's teacher to facilitate a resolution. He also recommends helping children learn to advocate for themselves and express their hurt to their bully directly.
Just as it is when your child is the perpetrator of social exclusion, empathy is key here, according to Dr. Shrand. Talk to your child about empathizing even with those who are unkind to them. This can help them build a well-dimensioned picture of socialization as a whole and help them see their bully is at fault— not them.
Keep an open dialog…
One of the best ways to combat bullying and social exclusion, according to Dr. Pruett, is to open a dialog with your kids. Talk to them about bullying as something that they might do or experience, so that they can learn to identify situations on their own and bring it to the attention of teachers or other trusted adults when it does happen. It’s important to make this feel like an accessible topic and to let your child know that bullying happens. Social exclusion by definition is isolating, and it is important to let your child know that they are not alone and that this happens to other people as well.
If your child is being bullied socially, Infinity Counseling can help. Give us a call today. 757-227-3636