Socialization, A Necessary Evil
My second child rushes in distraught, breathing heavily. She's dressed up in a ridiculous array of odds and ends from a failed attempt at her own creative expression.
"Mommy, they won't play with me!"
I rarely force the group to fix the problem, unless it's egregious. And even then I make everyone stand trial. Often I make the individual evaluate why they aren't wanted as part of the group. I think kids naturally know when someone is a weirdo and I think if it isn't bullying it's a great way for the individual to socialize themselves. I don't care HOW understanding we need to be, no one really wants to play with a booger eater or an obnoxious person. When we go to the workplace we ostracize these people and often talk about them behind their back. Maybe if their parent focused more on their behavior and less on how others saw their behavior that person would be a little more refined. I'm not about making everyone fit a mold, but... odd as it may seem, we all have to live together. There are certain "individual" rights we have to give up to keep the balance- passing gas in public, picking our nose and eating it, and other such behaviors...
So my middle child rushes in and I respond...
"Well let's evaluate your actions. What could you do to make your situation better?"
She says, "Maybe be nicer and listen to what they want to do."
I say, "OK. Great. So now you need to decide how you will make yourself personable so that others will want to be around you. Then you can implement that plan and come back in 20 minutes."
Currently we live in a culture where anything goes. That's cool if we want chaos. Personally I want my kids growing up to understand that they are not the only person that matters. Their behaviors aren't the only ones that matter and their beliefs aren't the only ones that matter. Yes, they know that standing up for injustices is key, but I also want them to evaluate how their tiny puzzle piece fits into the bigger picture. The way others treat us is important, but the way that we behave is key too. Kids need to understand that and ask these questions:
Many of us apply the results of severe extremes (racism, homophobia, classism, etc.) to the everyday happenings of our lives. Sometimes those practices are not applicable. As parents it's really key to distinguish between if the group/school/society is being unfair to my child or is my child being unfair to the group.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.