Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Belongingness in children
These days my children always complain to me saying that when they go down to play, a child always pesters them to take him into their group to play. If they say no then he complains to his mother and the mother comes down and forces these children to include her child in the group.
When they complained, I tried to tell them that it would be a good gesture on their part to include this child into their group. It would add up to their numbers and they can play together. But their argument is that the child in the first place does not know how to play football and if in the process of playing, he gets hurt, the mother shouts at the other children. This is a common story which we come across, specialy when one lives in an apartment.
Well, every child would like to belong to a group and play. But not all children sometimes fit into a group. Children are very choosy and have certain criteria when they choose their friends. Generally children get together when they have like minded friends whose interest and aptitude match. This holds true not only for children but for adults as well.
I have generally seen that children accept other children more openly than adults do. It is only in extreme cases when there are no similarities at all that children refuse to accept another child into a group.
I feel we as parents have a huge role in ensuring that our children do not feel isolated. Especially so when people live in apartments where there are lots of children. Children form groups easily wherever they go. They do not need any adult help. Only little children below the age of two or three need their parents with them as they need to be in their comfort zone. The older children however are the first ones who go out and get to know children with whom they can play .
It's our job as parents to help our children to have that sense of belongingness into a group. All of us do need it for self identification. After all man is a social animal. This is especially so when we live in apartments. No child would like to be a loner nor the parents can accept it. So how can we as parents help our children?
Firstly, it is important for us parents to know our child's interest. He might like to play football or cricket and these are the two current passions of children these days. Secondly, we have to work extra hard to boost his / her self confidence. Sometimes the child might be very shy. So as a parent we can encourage the child by introducing the child to the group and request them to include the child in their group. Thirdly, encouraging in your child a sense of fair play helps. I emphasise "do not take sides" when your child complains. Explain to him it is part of the game. They have to sort out the issue on their own. Certain games like football are quite rough and the child may get hurt. If you are a parent who mollycoddles your child and do not want your child to get hurt then avoid sending him to play such games. The other children definitely will not take kindly to the child who always complains at the drop of a hat. This is a surefire way of getting the child excluded in all future games.
Most importantly as a parent be there when your child needs you, but never ever interfere unnecessarily. These are stages where the child gets trained to learn different aspects of life viz. communication skills, group participation, a sense of fair play, developing self esteem, self-confidence, acceptable behaviour etc. and in future this leads to a healthy interaction and positivity as adults.