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Rejected Child

What it Means to be a Rejected Child


Girl being teased by other girls
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Definition: A "rejected child" is someone who is strongly disliked by his peers. "Rejected children" are one of the five types of sociometric (or peer) statuses, a system for categorizing a child's social standing based on peer responses to that child. Some peers may like a "rejected child" to an extent, but the child is rarely if ever identified as anyone's best friend.

Rejected children have a number of characteristics that set them apart from their peers. They tend to be highly aggressive; rejected children often use physical, verbal and/or social aggression against their peers. Some or all of this aggressive behavior may stem from an initial instance of peer rejection. Unfortunately, though, the aggression itself then sparks continued and prolonged rejection. Rejected children also tend to act withdrawn, quiet and unhappy. Again, whether these behaviors cause the rejection or are caused by the rejection remains unclear. A neglected child's academics may also be negatively impacted.

Related terms: average child, controversial children, popular children, neglected child, sociometric status


Furman, Wyndol, McDunn, Christine, and Young, Brennan. The Role of Peer and Romantic Relationships in Adolescent Affective Development. In N. B. Allen & L. Sheeber (Eds.) Adolescent emotional development and the emergence of depressive disorders. 2008. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Wentzel, Kathryn R., & Asher, Steven R. The Academic Lives of Neglected, Rejected, Popular, and Controversial Children. Child Development. 1995. 66:754-763.

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