Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What to Do When Children are Exclusive in Their Play?

 Many parents have questions about their child being excluded or hear their child excluding someone. It is only normal for parents to not want their child to feel the pain of being excluded. Here are three things to keep in mind when this situation occurs with your child.

1. Teach others inclusion. If the children are at your house, take the time to teach them how important it is to include everyone in their play. In a non-judgemental, non-guilt producing way ask them to get in touch with what it feels like to be excluded. Stop activities that are exclusive and ask the kids how they can include everyone. Have a rule that at OUR house everyone plays non-exclusive games (unless of course, they agree). Help them see how everyone loses when teams exclude others because it often leads to hurt feelings which can then lead to revenge.
2. Teach your child the skill of getting himself included. It is important to teach the excluded child skills on how to be included. You may want to teach this child a special magic trick, or have a special game that only gets played during these situations, or teach him some funny jokes. If your is child having difficulty with this skill, have him role play with you or with puppets before he attempts this with others. It is unattractive to use skills that are whining and that get others in trouble with the supervising adult.
3. Teach your child how to be happy when he is excluded. There will be many times in a child's life where he will be excluded. Teach him the life skill of being content with being by himself.

An exception with these suggestions would be if an older sibling has friends over to play. Forcing the older sibling to let his younger sibling play with his friends can create resentment. If this should occur, you may want to consider designating some time when the older sibling wouldn't have to share his friends.

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