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The Parent Hood: Helping your child deal with a friend’s rejection

Parent advice:

This is such a serious topic, and I think teachers and educational leaders need to address this kind of behavior as the start of bullying. I think that most of the time, the ones doing the rejection are actually jealous of the other for their looks or intelligence, and this envy triggers the behavior. Usually the victim is sensitive and reacts, and therefore gives pleasure to the other child.

What to do: role-play. Play out pretend situations and different options: ignoring the rejecter, looking around and sitting by someone else. Also, discuss why your child wants this friend in the first place. There must be others who could be selected.

Different developmental stages require different strategies. If your child acts victimized, cries or has similar responses, you can bet that the behavior will continue, with the bully pulling in others. Contact the parents or schoolteacher if it continues or intensifies. But never ignore it.

-Verna Schmidt

If you have a clue as to why the child is doing this, then I would explain it to your child. If not, I would let it pass. This is a precursor to the “mean girls” syndrome of junior high and high school. Perhaps it is time for your child to look for new friends. If the friend asks her why she isn’t playing with her, she should tell her she doesn’t like it when she treats her that way (spurning her).

-Marie Grass Amenta

Expert advice:

“Parents need to be realistic about childhood friendships,” said Carl Pickhardt, author of “Why Good Kids Act Cruel” (Sourcebooks, $14.99). “These relationships are not committed partnerships, but ebb and flow with change and circumstance, with times of getting along and not getting along, and that is OK.”

What should a parent do when the child is momentarily cut off from a friendship? Pickhardt’s tips:

1. Empathize with your child’s feelings and make sure that, feeling bad, she is not treating herself badly (“Nobody likes me!”) and making the situation worse.

2. See if your child can identify anything in his own behavior, the friend’s behavior or events between them that might have disrupted the relationship.

3. Encourage the child to use the time away from this friend to spend time with other friends as well as to create enjoyable time to be with herself.

4. If this friendship still matters, if they have had a positive history with each other, encourage your child to keep testing the waters with invitations to get together again. Sometimes parents can arrange for something fun to do. In most cases, disruptions do not have to end established friendships.

5. Help the child understand that no good friends always get along, any more than all good friendships necessarily last forever.


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