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Helping Your Unpopular Child
|by Garima Gupta|
If your child is unpopular among his peers, you'll know how painful it is to witness the apple of your eye being brushed aside for more 'liked' children. It is even more difficult and frustrating to try helping them. Why is it that some children are very popular in their peer group and seem to have dozens of friends, and some kids just don't seem to get along with even one ? What can parents do to help a disliked child? We explore these issues in this article.
It is important to find out what causes unpopularity among young children , and what are the criteria kids use to accept or reject a new child in their group. Firstly, The key differentiating point appears to be the communication skills. A well-liked child is not just good at expressing his own feelings, but is also good at reading and responding to others' feelings. In contrast, an unpopular child might not be able to recognize his playmates feelings. For example, four year old Mohit likes rough play with his father, and so plays the same with Suchi. It is difficult for Mohit to understand that Suchi hates his rough play, and actually avoids playing with him because of it.
Secondly, Disliked children also exhibit more unpleasant behavior, typically aggression. This might stem from their inability to put their feelings in words. Kids, like us, don't like aggression, and would avoid a child who is likely to hurt them in some way.
Lastly, popular children are good at creatively arriving at alternate play strategies when they are rejected. They suggest other games, or variations in existing games to suit a particular environment or people. Consider this scenario: A group of 5-6 year old kids were playing house, and Mohit wanted to join them. However, he was instantly rejected, as the kids did not need another 'family member'. Mohit was angry , and responded by disrupting their game. Rohit, on other hand, was more adaptive. When he too was rejected as a family member, he suggested he could be a ghost and circle round the house. This sounded like fun to the other kids, as it did not alter their original game, added more spunk, and went with their requirement of 'no more family members'. Adjusting oneself according to potential playmates goes a long way in boosting a child's popularity.
It seems some kids indeed have all these characteristics ingrained and are popular without effort. What to do if your child is not one of them. While you may not be able to alter your kid's popularity index overnight to a rock star's , there is still a plenty that can be done. Remember, it is a child's need to be liked and loved, and when he is not liked, it is not only irritating, but also very painful for him. I'm giving a few pointers, based on which every caretaker can create a unique list to to-dos according to the child concerned.
What not to do is often equally, if not more, important as what to do. If your child is indeed an unpopular child at play, there are a few things you might like to avoid doing.
Popularity and Friendships are no doubt very important. But let me emphasize that kids are all miracles, and should be appreciated, cherished and loved as much as one can, whether they are popular or not. Growing up is a tough process, tougher than we realize, and they need us a lot.
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