Parenting Tips for Kids Who Feel Socially Rejected
Social anxiety is usually about kids fearing interpersonal rejection. No one likes to feel like they are excluded or being treated unfairly. Most kids like to feel part of a circle of friends. They want to believe that they are included in a group. If for example, they are rejected by being excluded at recess or not being invited to a party, they will come home in a down cast mood.
The more kids are able to talk about these experiences, the sooner they feel calm enough to be able to do something about feeling they belong again. But how do you help a rejected child want to talk without feeling humiliated?
Parenting Tips for Helping Rejected Kids
- Quietly observe your child seems to feel down and out. Ask if they feel like talking about it. Probably, they’ll feel embarrassed and brush you off, but tell them when they’re up to it, you’re ready to listen.
- Notice on your own if there is a pattern in your child or teen getting excluded frequently. If your child is young, touch base with a teacher to ask if your child is having stress socially so you are aware of the difficulty.
- Consider if there are stressors at home that may be acted out in school such as marital tensions that affect your child in such a way that he is isolating himself at school because he’s so sad and confused.
- If your child comes home and is curt with you or throws a back pack down abruptly and doesn’t feel like following usual routines of snack and homework, tell them you are guessing that something didn’t go right, and can you help? This is better than chastising them for not following routines. Take their actions as a message indicating something is wrong.
- Younger kids are less guarded than teens and may right off tell you what happened. Listen without judgment or interruption and let them blow off steam. Then try and help them recreate the incident in detail including how they handled it. Before giving advice, ask them if they wish things had happened differently. Slowly lead to could they or others have handled things in other ways, so they see there might be options they haven’t considered.
- If your teen is moody, be careful to keep your distance. Give them time to cool off and be on their own. Later, give a quiet knock on their door and gently ask, “What’s up?” If they say, “nothing much” you can offer that you’ve noticed today they seem out of sorts. In other words, slowly enter your child’s world so they can discuss whatever has hurt them.
- Talk casually at first, maybe about your own day, and then slowly ask about their day. First discuss nonessentials as a pathway to discussing more important matters. Let your teen know you can sense something is up and whenever they feel like it, you’re open to listening.
- The important key is not to chastise a sullen kid for not doing their homework right away or beginning to text and email their friends instead. They may need to find their own way out of their feelings without your interference. Respect that need by giving them space. When they are calmer, you can suggest that it’s hard to do homework when something is upsetting. Can you help?
- Recall a time when you felt rejected by friends or out of the loop. Your experience may help you get in touch with how your child or teen feels. This self-reflection may help you know how to approach your individual child or teen in a way they can accept your guidance.
Personal rejection is part of growing up with peers but when it happens to your son or daughter it feels momentous to them. They won’t feel this can happen to anyone, but they’ll feel unlikeable and at worst, self-loathing. Try to ease their burden by not having high expectations of following rules or chores that day but giving them leeway to sort themselves out. The ultimate goal is to help them help themselves by reviewing what occurred and considering other alternative outcomes should they be able to consider the incident from different perspectives. If you are sensitive to their experiences, they will sense your compassion which in itself may be relieving.