When your child doesn't fit in and isn't included along with her peers, it definitely hurts. Turn your focus on some positive strategies and your child will soon be feeling empowered and on top of her game.
2. Parents and Popularity
I’ve been dealing with my eight kids' disappointments for 25 years now. For the most part, these uncomfortable moments are just part of life and growing up, but there are also times when we as parents play a role in unknowingly influencing our kids’ popularity.
Dr. Mitch Prinstein, a clinical child psychologist whose focus is on the psychology of popularity and is also the author of Popular, says that parents do influence their child’s popularity based on how they grew up as teens. In an article on BusinessInsider.com, Dr. Prinstein focuses on two types of popularity: social reputation (status) and social preference (likability). He explains that although status (who the "cool" kids are) is more noticeable, likability (those who can build significant relationships with others) is more important and meaningful as the child grows into a young adult.
He writes: “Their own experience with popularity dictates what they teach their children about social interactions.”
I myself grew up as a happy teenager and enjoyed a very active school life. His theory is that parents who enjoyed a fun childhood with memories of happiness overall will tend to have more popular children. (Which for the most part with my eight kids has proven true.)
He also explains: “Those who remember their childhoods marked by hostility tend to have unpopular children, and those who remember their childhoods marked by loneliness or anxiety tend to be of average popularity or higher.”
Prinstein advises parents to teach their kids the difference between status and likability. “Likability can allow them to be happier and more resilient as children and as adults.”
I reminded my daughter that she may not have been invited to this particular sleepover, but she did have several close friends in her corner to hang out with. She definitely did find some comfort in this and chatted about looking out for other kids who don’t always get included.
3. Don’t Allow Shame In
One of the first feelings my daughter shared with me when she found out she wasn’t invited to the sleepover was that she felt shame. As we talked more about it, she admitted that maybe the other girls thought there was something different about her or maybe she wasn’t as smart as they were.
In my heart, I didn’t believe this was the case, but it did cause me to question some things to myself. “Are my daughter’s interactions with others her age appropriate?” “Is there something I can do to help her be more acceptable with her peer group?” Or you may have to just be honest that your child is not always going to be liked by everyone, particularly if cliques are formed, so we have to help them find kids that they do have fun with and cultivate those relationships.
Turns out that the majority of the girls invited to the sleepover after the dance had a common thread—all their moms were very good friends. Most of the moms got together during the dance for a glass of wine. I was not asked to go out during the dance, so apparently, I was not included either. Even as adults, we face the same types of scenarios. I didn’t hurt like my daughter did when I learned that most of the moms were connecting, but it certainly gave me a better appreciation for how she was feeling. We both talked about our feelings and we eventually had some hearty laughs about what went on at the dance while she was there having fun, not what was happening after the dance at the sleepover that she didn’t attend.