HKQ Kids

Inclusion

When we hear the word “bullying,” we think of mean, targeted, and aggressive behavior: name-calling, spreading rumors, and physically hurting others. But we should make an effort to remember that exclusion, while less direct, can be just as harmful to a child. When it comes to sitting at a table for lunch or playing outside during recess, no kid wants to be left out. It’s easy to assume that your child would never be a part of excluding other kids, but the influence of peer pressure is strong. Here are a couple of points to go over with your children to help them be more inclusive.

1. Teach your child to be perceptive. Exclusion isn’t always purposeful; kids will naturally form groups that they’ll routinely play/eat lunch with. Have your child make a habit out of scanning the cafeteria or the playground for kids who are alone. Even if they look ok on the outside, they might be lonely on the inside.

2. Encourage your child to invite these kids into his or her group. It can be as simple as saying, “Hey, do you want to come sit with us?” or “We need another person for the game we’re playing, do you want to join us?” It can make it easier and more comfortable if your child can find a like-minded friend to go and ask with him or her.

3. Teach your child to speak out against exclusion when they see it happening. It might make others feel uncomfortable, but that can be a good thing. This can create the good kind of peer pressure; when called out in front of others, kids may be more likely to follow your child’s example.

4. Of course, exclusion extends to the digital world as well. For those with kids old enough to have phones, be wary of group chats. Oftentimes, there are several versions of these groups: variations of the chat minus one or two people. These offshoot groups are often used to make fun of and talk poorly about these excluded kids. Make sure your child knows to avoid these sorts of toxic environments.

5. This point applies to older kids, and even adults; even if you’re 99% sure your friend will say no, invite them anyway. They might not be one for parties or get-togethers, but it’s better to just ask than for them to find out through word of mouth or social media that there was a big event that they were never even invited to.

Teach your kids to consider how they would feel if they were always left out, At the end of the day, it all boils down to a simple but powerful lesson: try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. It’s a good practice for your kids and your entire family.

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