When kids exclude other kids

Last Saturday, after Ethan finished his Robotics class at school, there were a few kids from the class who were playing basketball. Ethan said he wants to play for a while and I asked him to go ahead.

So he went over to the kids but before he could even play, one of the kids pointed to him and said in Mandarin, “No, you cannot play with us.” It took him by surprise and he immediately felt down and disappointed. When he turned around, it almost broke my heart to see the disappointment in his face.

He tried hard to hold his composure and I asked him why did the boy did not allow him to play. He said he doesn’t know. Though he doesn’t know the boy personally, they attend the same Robotics class and when he (the boy) asked Ethan to lend him something in class and Ethan did. So, now, when the boy tried to exclude him, he felt even more disappointed.

Not wanting to see the disappointment in Ethan, I walked over to the kids and asked them why did they not allow Ethan to play with them. The boy who excluded Ethan kept quiet while the others said they did not do so. I looked at the boy and said that that was what he told Ethan and I heard it. I wanted to tell him that by doing so, he has made someone felt so down and disappointed and that it was mean thing to do. Unfortunately, with my extremely limited Mandarin vocabulary, I just couldn’t find the words. I thought of talking to them in Cantonese or English but I was worried that they would not understand me. So I ended up just telling them that they shouldn’t have excluded anyone and walked away.

When we were driving home, I told Ethan not to be too disappointed. Ethan said that he will not lend the boy anything anymore. The protective mother in me wanted to tell him yes, don’t lend the mean boy anything anymore. That’s what the boy deserves for being mean. Instead, I told Ethan that he should still lend the boy things but before he does so, he should remind the boy what he had done. I want Ethan to be the better person and not be mean to anyone. He knows how it felt like to be excluded and being treated meanly by his peers so he should not do the same to anyone else.

I think this episode had affected me more than it had on Ethan. I felt that I should have taught him how to be more out-spoken and stand up for himself. Ethan has always been timid and usually try to stay below the radar.

When we reached home, I tried to google whether I had done the right thing and read up on why kids exclude other kids.

There are many reasons, according to http://www.themotherco.com/2010/11/little-bullies-when-kids-leave-kids-out/, but the typical reasons are:

  • To
    protect themselves. If a child makes others feel threatened or simply
    doesn’t look like a safe playmate, they are likely to be excluded.
  • To protect play that is going well. High-level, coordinated play is
    very difficult for young children and exponentially more so as the
    number of players increases.
  • To protect a currently rewarding relationship. Because young
    children live in the moment and often define a “friend” as whomever they
    are currently playing with, an interloper will feel like a threat to
    the friendship itself.
  • To ensure their own control of a game. Many children prefer to be
    the leaders of group play so they can make decisions about “what happens
    next” in a game. New players mean fewer decisions for others.
  • To avoid playing with children who do not play “the right way.” Just
    like adults, young children have an established peer culture with its
    own set of social norms. Children who do not conform to these norms,
    many of which revolve around the rules of pretend play, are likely to be
    excluded.

– See more at: http://www.themotherco.com/2010/11/little-bullies-when-kids-leave-kids-out/#sthash.OFmutRB2.dpuf

  • To
    protect themselves. If a child makes others feel threatened or simply
    doesn’t look like a safe playmate, they are likely to be excluded.
  • To protect play that is going well. High-level, coordinated play is
    very difficult for young children and exponentially more so as the
    number of players increases.
  • To protect a currently rewarding relationship. Because young
    children live in the moment and often define a “friend” as whomever they
    are currently playing with, an interloper will feel like a threat to
    the friendship itself.
  • To ensure their own control of a game. Many children prefer to be
    the leaders of group play so they can make decisions about “what happens
    next” in a game. New players mean fewer decisions for others.
  • To avoid playing with children who do not play “the right way.” Just
    like adults, young children have an established peer culture with its
    own set of social norms. Children who do not conform to these norms,
    many of which revolve around the rules of pretend play, are likely to be
    excluded.

– See more at: http://www.themotherco.com/2010/11/little-bullies-when-kids-leave-kids-out/#sthash.OFmutRB2.dpuf

  • To protect themselves. If a child makes others feel threatened or simply
    doesn’t look like a safe playmate, they are likely to be excluded.
  • To protect play that is going well.
    High-level, coordinated play is very difficult for young children and
    exponentially more so as the number of players increases.
  • To protect a currently rewarding relationship. Because young children
    live in the moment and often define a “friend” as whomever they are currently
    playing with, an interloper will feel like a threat to the friendship itself.
  • To ensure their own control of a game. Many children prefer to be the
    leaders of group play so they can make decisions about “what happens next” in a
    game. New players mean fewer decisions for others.
  • To avoid playing with children who do not play “the right way.” Just
    like adults, young children have an established peer culture with its own set
    of social norms. Children who do not conform to these norms, many of which
    revolve around the rules of pretend play, are likely to be excluded.

 

 Knowing this, it did give me a different perspective on why the boy did what he did. However, kids will be kids and instead of getting all worried about how other kids are going to treat my kids, I think it’s more important to teach my kids how to react in such situations. First thing I need to do now is to teach my kids, especially Ethan, to speak up and be more assertive.
In https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/shunning/, it teaches kids how to respond when they find themselves in situations when they are being excluded:

Reason:           “You’re
not good enough.”

Response:       “I’ll get
better if I practice.”

Reason:           “You’re
too good and nobody else gets a chance.”

Response:       “I just
want to play. I’ll agree to rotate so that everybody will have a turn.”

Reason:           “Only
people wearing yellow can play this game.”

Response:       “Since
green is a mixture of yellow and blue, this green shirt actually has yellow in
it.”

Reason:           “You
cheat.”

Response:       “I didn’t
mean to. Let’s make sure we agree on the rules ahead of time.”

Reason:           “There
are too many here already.”

Response:        “There’s
always room for one more.”

Reason:           “You had
to have watched the show on TV last night to play.”

Response:        “I’ll use
my imagination. Just tell me what the rules are.”

So it’s time for Ethan and I to do some role-play so that he knows what to say the next time something like this happens again. Time to teach him to be more assertive and not let anyone push him around. It’s a cruel world out there after all.
  • To
    protect themselves. If a child makes others feel threatened or simply
    doesn’t look like a safe playmate, they are likely to be excluded.
  • To protect play that is going well. High-level, coordinated play is
    very difficult for young children and exponentially more so as the
    number of players increases.
  • To protect a currently rewarding relationship. Because young
    children live in the moment and often define a “friend” as whomever they
    are currently playing with, an interloper will feel like a threat to
    the friendship itself.
  • To ensure their own control of a game. Many children prefer to be
    the leaders of group play so they can make decisions about “what happens
    next” in a game. New players mean fewer decisions for others.
  • To avoid playing with children who do not play “the right way.” Just
    like adults, young children have an established peer culture with its
    own set of social norms. Children who do not conform to these norms,
    many of which revolve around the rules of pretend play, are likely to be
    excluded.

– See more at: http://www.themotherco.com/2010/11/little-bullies-when-kids-leave-kids-out/#sthash.OFmutRB2.dpuf

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