Nothing burns quite like the feeling of being intentionally left out of something. Going through that as a child can be particularly scaring and affect confidence and social behaviour. Encourage your children to become more inclusive and recognize when a class mate or friend has been left out. Follow these tips to build inclusivitiy.
Host a class party or group get together and invite all children. Play group co-operative (non-competitive) games or intentionally pair children with someone they do not usually play with. New friendships may form naturally when children are given the opportunity to all play together.
Challenge your child to be the "Includer Leader" among their peers. Tell them to look around and find someone who might look lonely or be sitting by themselves and invite that child to play. When children see others including children who aren't normally invited to play, they might follow the lead and include other children. Sometimes it just takes one person to make a change.
Be a good role model yourself. Show your child what it looks like to include others. Talk about others you might be able to help. "I was thinking our neighbour might be feeling sad or lonely since her son moved out. I would like to invite her to dinner".
Talk about feelings often. Label emotions and frequently discuss how children might feel in certain circumstances. "How did you feel when...?” "How do you think she feels?" “She might be feeling really lonely right now”.
Volunteer with your child. Provide your child with the opportunity to help others. Volunteering is a selfless act that can encourage empathy and understanding as your child considers the needs and perspectives of others. It will help you to think about people you might not have thought of before.
Naomi Pelss is a Kindergarten Early Childhood Educator. She has a degree in Child Studies and has been in the child care field for almost twenty years. Her other full time job is parenting four children and keeping up with her personal blog at www.morewithfourblog.com.