How Can I Help My Child to Feel Included at Daycare/School?

Preschool children in classroom with teacher
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Isolation from sitting with other children or not being invited to play games or other age-appropriate kid activities is a form of bullying, and social withdrawal, low self-esteem and even diminished academic achievement can result if adult intervention does not take place.

What should parents do if they suspect a child is being excluded at school?

Kids may not necessarily tell their parents or other adults such as caregivers or coaches, but children who are excluded from peers or don't have friends at child care or school could suffer lasting psychological damage.

Peer rejection can come in the form of not sitting with others at a table, being excluded from games or social times such as recess or outdoor play, or not having anyone in a class or group who interacts with them in any way.

Here are ways adults can react to help resolve this problem:

  • Adults should calmly discuss concerns with a child and listen carefully, then take up the matter with the child's care provider, teacher or coach. Ask whether other adults have noticed the problem, and any steps they are taking to have the child feel included by other children.
  • Ensure your child feels loved and supported at home, and consider whether social skills need to be taught/reinforced to assist with peer assistance. Try to objectively determine whether the exclusion is due to any socially-unacceptable behavior or patterns that might discourage friendships from forming.
  • Enroll a child in an outdoor activity/hobby separate from the daycare/school and observe whether same patterns of isolation, social withdrawal or exclusion exist. Consider whether a simple change in classrooms or to a different care setting or teacher could help resolve the issue.
  • Call in the experts, if needed. Don't hesitate to speak with a school counselor or child psychologist. It is important to deal with concerns and not ignore them or encourage a child to tolerate it. Isolation is not just about popularity; it can profoundly affect a child's self-esteem and ability to have friends if it is not addressed and resolved.
  • Remain in constant contact with the adult in charge and consider volunteering or helping out in the classroom where you can quietly observe interactions. Sometimes, simply noting what kids most enjoy, talk about, or play can provide enough information to help a child more successfully engage with others.

Updated by Jill Ceder

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