Imagine heading to your child’s practice or game. You can’t wait to see them having a great time with their teammates. When the time comes to pick teams, you are excited, but slowly the excitement fades as more and more names are called except your child’s.
As a parent, watching your child always get “picked last” is heart-wrenching. You may notice they are always chosen last for sports, teams, or collaboration of any kind. Many times, this is not a reflection of ability, and it is actually a form of exclusion.
Here’s what you can do if your child is being excluded.
Don’t Put Your Emotions on Your Child
A parent’s first instinct is to become very upset and angry when they witness their child being excluded. Nobody wants to feel like their child is left out. Before jumping up and expressing how you feel, just wait a moment. Sometimes, kids are not bothered by things like being picked last. Do not put your emotions on your child by reacting when they are not. If it is a repeated event, then eventually it may bother your child. But at first, take a deep breath and see how your child fees.
Finding a Fit for Skill Level
Carefully evaluate the situation, especially for a team sport. Have an honest conversation with the coach or activity leader about why your child is always left out on the sideline. If your child enjoys the activity but is struggling with feeling excluded, it may be a good idea to change the environment. Make sure your child has an opportunity to play or engage at his level of ability.
Talk to an Adult
If you have concerns about your child repeatedly being left out, have a conversation with the adult overseeing the activity. This may be the teacher, coach, or some other leader. Express your concerns without placing any blame. Work together with the adult to come up with a plan. For example, assigning teams and partners for different activities may help.
Discuss What Makes a Good Friend
Children often feel the most excluded when those they consider being friends leave them out. The truth is people who consistently exclude you are not your friend. Talk with your child about what makes a good friend and what qualities to look for in a friend. Explain that they do not need to be mean or lash out at those excluding them, but that looking for these “good friends” will help.
Watching your child be left out is painful and upsetting, but there are ways to improve the situation. Try the tips above to help your child if they are seemingly always picked last.