Parenting Issue - Raising a Child Who Gets Teased Because He is Different

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Parenting Issue ...

... Helping a Child Who is Left Out Because He's Different

Parenting Question & Answer

Dear Laura,

My 8 year old son is a good kid but doesn't know well how to deal with today' s cruel world. His peers seem to be so much faster than him in their dealings and he, being the not-so-active kind, is left out. When he tries (overtries) to fit in, the other kids don't like it as they can sense his immaturity. He then turns to parents for support with tears or comments like "I don't want to play with them" or "I'll play by myself." He has a few friends with whom he gets along who are gentler or younger. I want to help him become stronger because I know as he grows up it is going to be much harder to fit in. How should I help him deal with today's world?Please advise.


Parenting Article Answer:

Dear M,

This parenting issue gives rise to question that tugs at every caring parent's heart: How do you raise a child who is different, while teaching him how to survive in the real world? The trick is to help your child discover who he is while teaching him how to get along with different types of people. This means that you have to give up your notions about how he should be (e.g., faster and tougher, like other kids) and help him discover who he is and what his strengths are, so he learns to value himself.

These ideas are core concepts in my book, Keepers of the Children. Central to its premise is an important parenting issue: how do we raise a child to be a caring person without setting him up to become a victim of those who have little or no humanity?

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These are important questions because we are seeing more and more violence in the world of children and young adults. The recent shootings at Virginia Tech are just another example in a recent series of events. The young people who were mowed down by this crazy, narcissistic gunman were dedicated kids from good families, who did well in school and were on the verge of living out the dreams they had been working toward their entire lives. It took one crazy person to destroy all this. Like you, I'm not raising my kids to be good people, so some other kid can take them out. This is why raising our children to understand that there are dangerous people in the world is an important parenting issue.

While I'm not implying that these young people had a chance to save themselves from this two-handed shooter, I am pointing out that if they had been raised to be psychologically savvy, some of them might have had a fighting chance. That's why it's not enough to raise kids to be good people. We need to teach them to be people smart—to hone their self-preservation skills. In order to do this, we must raise them to trust their instincts and understand that their lives have inherent value. After all, we naturally defend that which we hold dear.

Parenting Issue: It's not enough to raise children to be good people.

Unfortunately, the space permitted for this article does not allow me to explore the subtleties I talk about in my book which will help you understand this parenting issue more fully and how you can use these concepts to raise your son to feel good about who he is and identify those people (both children and adults) who do not have his best interests at heart.

So for now, I will leave you with three tips that will help you find solutions to this essential parenting issue.

1. Encourage your child's strengths. Rather than trying to get your child to change himself to be more like other kids, help him discover the areas in which he naturally excels and help him develop them. (Keep in mind that the more you encourage your child to fit in, the more other kids will sense and want to unmask his inauthenticity.) For instance, although his gentleness is seen as a weakness on the playground (and in much of the male world) as an adult, in certain professions, gentleness is a strength. Create opportunities outside of school for your child to express his gentleness, so he can maintain this aspect of his nature, but teach him how and when it serves him and those he cares for. (See Chapter 3 in my book, which talks about giving your child a name that identifies his spiritual nature.)

Parenting Issue: A child needs a parent who "sees" him and gives him what he needs to navigate the world. This is particularly true for children who are taunted for being different.

2. Teach your child coping strategies that will help him survive cruelty on the playground. Share stories of how you have coped with bullies in your youth. Role play comebacks and actions that he can choose in the face of rejection, physical violence or cruel teasing. Acknowledge his feelings of anger, sadness and rejection, but do not encourage him to be righteous or self-indulgent. Instead, teach him how to deal with the bullies of he world. Teach him how to stand up for himself and generate his need for a sense of belonging with those who accept him as he is. This is a tall order, but your child's inability to cope with others is a cry for help that must be attended to. You may need outside help. (Use the Contact Us link to the left to inquire about my parenting help coaching service.)

3. Rather than raising your child to be nice, teach him to be real. Help him own his feelings, trust his instincts and his perceptions of others. As he grows in awareness about how the world works, he will learn where he fits in and will have the courage to take a stand against those who gain personal power from teasing or humiliating others.

I'd like to commend you for bringing up this crucial parenting issue. Your ability to understand the importance of teaching your son to navigate the harsh realities of today's world shows me that you are practical, insightful, caring and dedicated to your son. These are excellent qualities in a parent. Keep up the good work.

Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning book, parenting book Keepers of the Children. The book uses unique ideas to teach parents how to raise children to discover who they are and what they strengths are as they're growing up. Learn how parenting is path of growth and development for child and parent and how to raise your child to act from integrity and strength.

Laura is available for speaking engagements and media interviews. To find out more, use the Contact Us link to the left.

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Have a parenting issue that you need help with? You can consult with Laura through her parenting coach services. Click on the link to find out how you can get help over the phone.

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