Odd one out or part of the crowd?

Even as adults we can at times feel that we just do not fit in. This feeling is so much more real in the life of children. They really experience this feeling of not fitting in as an excruciating pain.

With children, the need to be part of the crowd is an instinct. It is part of survival. For them it is not just about fitting in, it is about life and death. So by realising that they don’t fit in, they also experience anxiety and fear. Other children quickly pick up on this feeling and, as cruel as children are, will focus on it.

There are many reasons why a child could feel like the odd one out. Some of these reasons are: having a diagnosis (medical, psychological or learning), having a disability, being adopted, coming from a single parent family to name but a few. These are real life situations that are difficult for well adapted adults to deal with, just imagine the impact it could have on children.

Parents would just like to take this feeling of being the odd one out away. Unfortunately, nothing you are going to say or do will take that pain away. The only solution is to teach them to deal with the problem they are facing. By teaching them to face the problem and deal with it, they will acquire a skill that will be of value to them for the rest of their lives.

James Lehman advocated that parents of children that don’t fit in should use teaching, coaching and limit-setting to help their children address this problem. Teaching and coaching your child reminds them of skills they have previously acquired as well as teach new skills to use in the solving of the problem. They can help to identify and solve the problem by using their own skill, thus empowering the child to achieve even more. Limit-setting need to continue. A child can’t suddenly do whatever they like, just because they have had a bad day at school.

When your child is having a bad ‘odd one out day’, remember the seven drops by Carol Stock Kranowitz:

  1. Drop your voice – even if you whisper.
  2. Drop your body – go down on your knees to meet them on their eye level.
  3. Drop your TV remote (or any electronic devices) – cherish the moments with your child and relate to them in a positive and meaningful way.
  4. Drop your guard – let your child take safe risks. This is how they will learn new skills.
  5. Drop your defences – don’t ignore that your child has a problem, face it.
  6. Drop your batteries – don’t let battery operated toys babysit your child. Active bodies and brain cells are a child’s power.
  7. Drop your misconception that fun is frivolous – put your best effort into having fun with your child.

So, instead of trying to push your child into the box that society wants them to fit into, rather allow them to create their own box and have fun in doing so.

You might want to read more about how to be a friend to your child.