I hate it when my kids feel left out. Here's what helps.
Among the biggest heartbreaks for me as a parent are the times when I can’t fix a hurt for my children. Like when their friends are leaving them out.
I hate it when they’re left out.
Naturally I think my kids are amazing. I feel privileged to see their perfect attributes, and I find their quirks endearing. I want to hang out with them!
However, this is not always so among their sea of peers. One day my kids can be floating in popularity and the next find themselves fighting upstream against piranhas. Bewildered, they can’t figure out what they’ve done “wrong” to turn the tides…and I just want to find these peers and beat them up.
Each of my kids have had seasons when they tell me they’re sitting alone at lunch feeling isolated and worrying that they may not survive the day.
Though I can’t make their peers include them, I have learned a few things that help me help them when they’re being left out.
3 Things I Try When My Kids Feel Left Out
Let Them Feel
We want our kids to develop resiliency so we often tell them to ignore the situation, go to school with a smile, and prove to the world they don’t care. However, sometimes they just need to feel: to rage and cry over their disappointment at fickle peers. Hold them, love them, and let them be emotional.
Help Them Navigate Tomorrow
Remind them tomorrow is a new day and then offer practical ideas for how to get through the day. For example, they may need ideas for how to make a new friend. When my daughter went through a season of being left out, we identified an acquaintance she could pursue to eat lunch with. It took a lot of bravery for my daughter to reach out to this acquaintance, but when she did, she discovered that the girl felt left out too.
Remind Them Who They Are
Relationships can be hard for our kids when they don’t know why a friend from yesterday has moved on. Truthfully, we don’t know why either. Sometimes all we can do is keep telling them how much they’re loved and what God thinks of them. Keep sharing the specific reasons why you love them for who they are, not who's hanging out with them.
These times of being left out will come and go, even into their adult years. All we as parents can do is let them know how amazing they are.
Try this! When you know that you child is feeling left out, write a note about how amazing they are and hide it in their notebook or lunch box to help them get through the day.