How to Talk to Your Child about Exclusionary Behavior (Tips 7 & 8)

April 23rd, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized

Today I offer Tip 7 and Tip 8 in my continuing series on How to Talk to Your Child about Exclusionary Behavior.

Tip 7: Define difficult concepts like ‘secret,’ ‘bully,’ and ‘friend’ in accessible ways and set easy to follow ground rules that respond to your child’s concerns.

Why? Some words seem simple but really have difficult meanings and are complicated. Taking the time to explain the finer details shows your child you care for the child as a fellow ingroup member and teaches the child to value your ingroup norms. It arms your child to respond to others as outgroup members who don’t know the ‘right’ way to behave according the the norms of your child’s ingroup. It arms them to have pride in knowing how to respond to these complicated issues in a way that is consistent with their family ingroup against another child who may not be as savvy about these topics.

For example, during a long and difficult attempt to find out a ‘secret’ from my daughter I decided to define some terms she seemed to have some confusion about. The definitions might not work for every family but can be adjusted to accommodate many different family types.

1) Something that will that person else happy when they find out; 2) something will definitely eventually be told to that person; 3) something that will be revealed in a short period of time.

1) Something important; 2) Something that you keep between two or more people only; 3) Something that must be told to either mommy or daddy, but not necessarily both, as soon as it exists even if the other person told you not to tell anyone; 4) Something mommy or daddy will never get mad at you for.

Tip 8: Talk about difficult topics in casual ways.

Why? Children feel stress when discussing difficult topics especially if they think you might be mad at them. This could cause them to be even more reluctant about talking. Keeping the conversation casual takes some of the pressure off of a child. Also when possible discuss difficult topics in an environment that is comfortable for your child like their room or favorite play area in order to heighten the sense of familiarity typical of ingroup members.

Tomorrow, the series continues with the next two tips.

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