Feeling 'left out' is one of the most uncomfortable yet normal encounters that kids and adults (of all ages) experience. Feelings of exclusion can cause one to feel angry, sad, jealous, depressed and can evoke an adaptive response that roots in our primal instinct of belonging. As clinical psychologist Sophie Mort, DClinPsy, said, “Social connection has been integral to the survival of our species. Being included in a group meant sharing resources, and being protected. " If feelings like these get threatened it is important to address them early on in efforts to help kids avoid feeling isolated and alone.
Not feeling included can happen pretty regularly to young kids. Getting them to talk about what they are experiencing helps validate their feelings and encourages conversations on how to help them feel better....turning weeds into seeds. Today we have come up with 10 Healthy Ways to help your kids (or yourself) to get back in there when you are feeling left out!
Pull Your Weeds- The more you can get your child to open up and verbally communicate about what they feeling helps you to validate their emotions as well as encourages them to identify negative thoughts and feelings. (In most cases, the sooner you see a weed, the easier it is to pull it out!)
Put Yourself In Their Shoes- Letting young kids know you have been there before and have experienced the same feelings helps them to not feel so alone and also highlights feelings of empathy.
Control The Things You Can-Discussing the things that are controllable in a certain situation helps a child understand they have choices. While you can't control what others do, you can control how you respond (not react) to them.
4. You Do You-To put it simply children need to know how truly special they are and what makes them unique is what makes our world a brighter place. Staying true to yourself even when times are tough is an act of bravery.
5. Look For New Adventures-Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Helping your child select new activities that they are interested in can open up new relationships and new opportunities.
6. Lead By Example-Staying calm and grounded when kids open up about these situations is extremely important. Young children look to us to gauge how they should feel. If you get upset over the encounter, this can cause deeper feelings of hurt and isolation.
7. Positive Distractions-Redirecting your thoughts after talking about uncomfortable feelings can be very helpful. Reading, dancing, exercising, doing crafts, playing with your pets or snuggling up on the couch to watch movies are all positive ways to get your mind back to a calmer space.
8. Deep Roots- Consider seeking outside help if you feel your child is really struggling. Sometimes situations might be more deeply rooted than what a child can communicate. Therapy from a certified professional can be extremely important and beneficial to all.
9. Random Acts of Kindness- Doing something nice for somebody else can help you to take your mind off yourself and focus on doing something positive for someone. The emotional benefits of random acts of kindness can help you get out of the weeds and back to your flowers.
10, Choose To Feel Joy To Create Blossoms So Bright-Reminding ourselves and our kids that while we can't always control our emotions, we can choose how we want to respond to them. The more we can turn our 'weeds into seeds' (talking about negative feeling and emotions to come up with positive solutions) the more our 'flowers' (our joy) will continue to shine....You are a gardener!