Kindergarten: What should I do when my kid is left out?
Meghan Leahy: In day-to-day interactions among kids, this is normal behavior. The stronger the adult leadership in the school, the less this happens. If children are little planets and the adult is the sun, the children orbit around the sun. If the children are outnumbering or the adult is punitive, the children start to orbit each other, and the bossiest child rises to the top.
This [last situation] will happen as long as we have schools, simply because children outnumber adults. But [being left out] can be a resilience-creating situation. This is a parenting opportunity for us to help our children name and move through emotions.
Nine times out of 10, the child just needs to feel heard and seen and know their hurt matters. Don’t downplay or ignore their emotions, but don’t over-accentuate them either. While your angry heart wants to call out those little assholes, that’s a vent you can save for coffee talk with a best friend. Say, “Your feelings are hurt. Oh honey, that’s hard. Your tears are okay with me.”
Then decide how to move forward. Of course, you don’t want a situation where your child is chronically being targeted and bullied. If being left out is a regular occurrence, work to create a partnership with the teacher by stating the facts. Say, “I’ve heard this is happening at lunch and I’m sure everyone is involved. Can you please help me?”