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What to Do if Your Tween Feels Left Out

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Growing up is full of challenges but the tween years can be particularly difficult for children. During the tween years children are constantly evaluating their status with peers, and that often leads to bad behavior as tweens juggle for social top spots, often times ignoring, bullying or leaving out others, even former friends.

If your child is receiving the cold shoulder at school from friends, former friends or from classmates, it could make for difficult times at home. And to make things worse, your child is older now, and fixing his or her problems aren't as easy as they used to be. Let's face it, a cookie and a smile can only get you so far these days. With that in mind, the suggestions below should help you perk up a child whose feeling left out by peers.

  • Listen: If your child complains about being left out, try not to act too quickly. Parents sometimes rush in too quickly to try and save the day. It's possible that your tween is going through a temporary challenge that can be worked out without your help. Listen to what your child is saying, and offer up support and sympathy. If the behavior continues, it might be time to consider other options.
  • Offer Suggestions: Children don't mature according to a strict schedule, and sometimes children who are late to mature feel left out by those who are moving on. If your child falls into this category, it's no wonder he's feeling left out by friends who are changing and developing other interests. Encourage your child to find like minded friends, who are interested in the same hobbies or activities. In addition, it's important to know that friendships come and go during the middle school years. Your child's best friend one year might not be there for her the next. But don't be surprised if old friends resurface in a few years.
  • Endorse Independence: All tweens feel isolated at one time or another, it's all a part of growing up. While peer acceptance is important to tweens, it's also alright for them to embrace their independent side. Point out characters from books or movies that go their own way and don't worry about whether or not they're popular or a part of the crowd. You can also help your child consider hobbies or activities that he or she can do alone, such as music, non-competitive sports or other individual activities.
  • Use Distractions: If your child is really feeling isolated and alone, you have to intervene. Help your child find activities and interests where he can meet other children like him. Helping him broaden his circle of friends will provide comfort on those days when he's feeling left out or left behind by others. Make it easy for your child to invite new friends over to your home, either for a sleepover or for a few hours on the weekend.
  • Open Your Home: Be sure you're opening your home to your child's friends, so that you can get to know them and know how your child interacts with them. Give the children a place to hang out, watch movies or play games and chill.
  • Make Time Together: Your child wants friends his own age, but that doesn't mean that you no longer matter. Be sure you spend alone time with your tween and that you make time for fun together. Sometimes a little family fun can take your child's mind off of his troubles, at least temporarily.
    1. About.com
    2. Parenting
    3. Tweens
    4. Relating to Your Tween
    5. How to Help a Tween Who is Feeling Left Out

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