Teaching kids about rejection

Raeven is a relatively sensitive kid. Like me, she tends to take a lot of things to heart, such as when kids do not respond to her or play with her as they will with their own friends.

Since I enrolled her at the preschool, Rae has learnt to play together with other kids, as opposed to when she was in Malaysia at the Montessori school, where she would just play alongside her classmates. She has learned to interact with her environment much more, perhaps because the children here are friendlier and more open to interaction, I don't know. As such, she has learned to 'make friends', which in her world, means someone who would talk to her or hold her hand when she offers it.

With acceptance comes rejection, and I myself have been puzzling in the last few months over how to explain to her why some kids won't respond to her offers of friendship sometimes. For instance, her 'boyfriend' Cody, which since Camp Gilead has been really friendly to her, has now moved on to his other friends, whereas Rae sees him as her 'best friend'. When he did not hold her hand or play with her as much (he still does, just not as much today compared to two weeks ago, you know how kids are), Rae was noticeably hurt and could not understand or deal with the situation.

Similarly, the ten-year old son of one of our neighbours, who had played with her twice at the playground, naturally prefers to play with kids his age. She sees that as rejection as well, and is hurt by his choice.

After much discussion with Lokes and some research (you will notice there aren't many articles online that talk about this), I started to talk to Rae about the importance of having friends, and lots of them. I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do, really, so if any of you can share with me how you got your child to deal with these facts of life, I'd most appreciate it. I only know that it's important to keep the concept very simple, and she seems to understand now that when one child does not want to play with her, she can always play with others. As such, in school, she has begun to 'make' more friends, and we talk about this everyday, where I ask her who she's made friends with today and so on. It really gives me some relief to know that she's forgotten about how hurt she was when Cody would not play with her, and seem to have moved on.

Going through this stage of her growth, I thought about how I dealt with rejection when I was in school. Of course, I can't remember when it was that I first experienced it, but it must've been horrid, and to have noone explain to me why it had to happen. I feel truly blessed to be able to go through this with Raeven, and to let her know that people out there in the world may reject her, but that her mommy and daddy will always be there for her, no matter what.

So to anyone of you experiencing this, talk to your child. Teach them about the importance of having more than one friend, and to know that whatever happens, mommy and daddy will always be their 'friends'.

And you know you can never tell them that enough, because there will come a time when their 'real' friends will be more important.

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2 Comments »

  1. Cindy said

    Parenting has taught me that children are highly perceptive, resilient and intuitive. Rejection, betrayal, and other negative forces are encountered early in life but with simple and effective explanations, children bounce back easily. That is why God made mothers, I think!

    In my opinion, rejection from friends teaches children that we have to forgive, to share and cultivate new friendships with others as we all need other people to hang out with. It is also a lesson in adaptation and change – to let go of the pain of rejection and to move on positively. This will also enable them to mix freely and make new friends easily and effortlessly which will be advantageous to them in the future.

  2. Vien said

    Hmm, never really thought about this but thanks for sharing! I think I’ll have my fair share when the time comes.

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