Back to school
Life can be tough for a six-year-old who isn’t part of the “in crowd” at school – your child will feel miserable if she’s shut out by the class clique.
Here’s how to help.
1. Teach your child to share
Knowing how to share is vital for children to get along. Nobody wants to play with someone who won’t share her toys, books or games.
Sharing is a sign of trust and friendship, and children in this age group expect others to share what they have with them when they play together, and perhaps her reluctance in this area is one of the factors keeping her out of the clique.
2. Teach your child social skills
The same applies to taking turns and following rules.
It’s difficult for children to play any sort of game together unless they recognise the unspoken social rule of sticking to an agreed format and of maintaining their position in the queue. Many fights among older children occur because one of these social skills is absent, instantly souring the potentially friendly atmosphere. Breaking the rules is a fast route to rejection.
Play games that require cooperation. This is an effective way to teach your child how to be friendly. For instance, a ball game that requires teamwork and cooperation can only be played properly if you and your child work together.
Give her advice on resolving disagreements. Explain to your child that it is better for her to sort out disagreements with her friends through discussion rather than storming off in a temper tantrum or raising her voice at them.
3. Teach your child the importance of kindness
Let her help around the house. Assign her specific jobs at home that involve helping others. For instance, she might help her brother tidy up a mess, assist you in baking a cake, or help her younger sister complete a puzzle toy.
Praise her when she shows kindness. Even without your guidance, there will be times when your child helps one of her siblings. When you see this happen, make a big fuss and let her know how pleased you are with her.
4. Train your child’s body language
Watch your child when she is with children her own age, in order to identify if she uses enough positive body language such as smiling, direct eye contact, standing close to them (but not too close) and laughing when they laugh.
5. Reassure your child
One of the effects of being rejected socially is that she loses her self-confidence.
Boost her enthusiasm and self-belief by pointing out that she has the power to change the situation if she tries and that she can get to know other people in school.
Check on her progress. Talk to her each day about her experiences at school, offering advice on how to deal with any of the social situations that have arisen. Your day-to-day support will encourage her to persist with her social efforts.
By Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, December 2015
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