How to Talk to Your Child about Exclusionary Behavior (Tips 12 & 13)

April 25th, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized

For those who have been following my Tips series titled How to Talk to Your Child about Exclusionary Behavior, the series is almost at an end. I have included two new tips below and will post the remaining six tips before May. On May 1st, I will post all twenty tips so that they are easily available in a single post for quick reference. Today’s tips center on helping your child find a voice with which to respond to exclusionary behavior. The voice may be that of a nearby adult or it may be the child’s own voice. Either way provides your child with a way to speak up against those who exclude.

Tip 12: Encourage your child to find a teacher, classmate, or other friend when they feel uncomfortable to help alleviate their feelings of being isolated and minimize the importance of that particular group categorization.

Why? Showing nonverbal or verbal alignment with someone demonstrates that the person is an ingroup member. Standing near or striking up an innocent and casual conversation with someone in authority (e.g., a popular kid in class, a big kid, a teacher) can have impact without the complications of ‘tattling’. Being alone heightens the feeling of being othered or outgrouped. Having a witness helps the child feel identified with an ingroup in the moment and can diffuse the attempt to outgroup.

Tip 13: Give your child a voice literally and figuratively by having them say something like, “Stop it I don’t like it” or “That’s not nice.” At random times have them practice saying it, shouting it, and shouting it in public places. This empowers your child to have a voice even in uncomfortable situations. Practice scenarios in which they would say this loudly. Encourage them to say this even when their friends do things they don’t like.

Why? It’s hard for anyone to fight social norms. But a child who feels othered is less likely to use their voice to gain back their power. Practicing with a child in a variety of scenarios shows them that as an ingroup member you will still love them and will be proud of them even if they violate social norms in this way. Children who practice these behaviors will learn that no matter what their own safety is more important than social norms. Think about the confidence this can give to a child to fight peer pressure throughout their lives. Children need to learn that fear of being outgrouped is not as important as their own safety and that their ingroup members want them safe!

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