How to help a child find a common language with peers who have physical, social or cultural characteristics
For children, there is nothing unusual in finding a common language with peers, playing together and not paying attention to any external differences. However, sometimes children may have difficulties in communicating with their peers. In the article, we will consider how parents can help their children find friends.
In our time of protests and disagreements, the least parents want is for their children to be at odds with each other and exclude someone from their circle of communication. However, it happens. Children and teenagers join companies based on their interests. Sometimes in such companies there is no place for children of other nationalities or those who have any physical disabilities. This trend persists even in adulthood.
Psychologists claim that at a certain stage of development, it is typical for children to associate with those who are similar to themselves. However, such behaviour should not be encouraged. Homogeneous social circles are not an ideal environment for development. We must teach our children more tolerant forms of behaviour – this is how we will help their personal growth. If we allow them to communicate only in their narrow circle, they will not be able to develop.
Communication in narrow circles is especially harmful for those who are excluded from them. Many children who are not accepted by their peers suffer from depression and anxiety. The reasons for such rejection may be different. For example, children with physical disabilities are often not accepted in the company due to the fact that they cannot participate in games on an equal basis with everyone. Children from poor families are not accepted because they don’t wear trendy clothes or use subsidized meals at school.
Children can also be excluded from companies due to the fact that they are not similar to others in their behaviour. For example, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more energetic and impulsive than their peers. Also, children with autism are often not accepted because they do not follow the special social rules of their peer group.
Fortunately, parents can help their child develop an inclusive mindset. It will bring great benefit to the child during the entire school age and in adult life.
Read books about the diversity of the human world
Books are great teachers. With their help, parents can talk to their children about things like ethnicity or race from an early age. You can explain to the child that another race is not a reason to remove a person from your circle of communication. You can also act out situations with the child, how he might act if he sees that another child is being ignored. Buy books with characters from different cultures and different physical abilities.
Parents should monitor what books the child reads, what videos the child watches on the Internet, etc. What values do they promote? Do they raise issues of diversity of races, religions, social and economic status?
Come up with activities for the child that develop inclusive thinking
Today, more and more parents send their children to sports clubs, dance studios, etc. Such classes are held in limited groups, where only children with certain physical parameters can enter. Children from some families cannot attend such sections due to their difficult financial situation. Such activities are undoubtedly useful, but they do not develop inclusive thinking in the child.
You can choose such sections and circles for your child, in which children from different groups can participate. Today, there are more and more out-of-school educational institutions that can be attended by children with disabilities, children from low-income families, etc. Children work together, communicate and receive emotional support.
In addition, many cities hold separate events dedicated to different cultures and groups of people. Attend such activities with your child to introduce him to the lives of peers who are somewhat different from him.
Help the child expand his circle of communication
Birthday parties, games on the playground, extracurricular activities – with the help of such activities, parents can help their child find new friends and develop inclusive behaviour. Talk to the teachers at parent-teacher conferences to find out who in the class has difficulty interacting with other children. Discuss how this problem can be solved. To do this, you can organize new classes in which all children will participate without exception – games, excursions, hikes, etc. The main idea is that all children should be involved in these activities.
Overcome language barriers
If a new child enters a class who does not speak the language most of the children speak well, he or she usually has little interaction with classmates outside of school. Parents should help the child overcome psychological barriers in communication until he learns the language at a level sufficient for free communication with his peers.
In inclusive institutions where hearing-impaired children study, sign language lessons are held for teachers and parents to establish communication between children. Teachers and parents, in turn, teach children greetings and other phrases in sign language to use in everyday communication.
Pay attention to your circle of communication
Psychologists believe that the best help for a child in forming his circle of communication is his own example. Before teaching a child something, you should think about your own values. How do you form your social circle? Do you befriend and communicate only with people of your social status or do you have people with physical characteristics, representatives of other cultures, etc. in your social circle?
It is not enough to simply tell a child that he should communicate with his peers regardless of their nationality or social status. Show her an example of inclusive behaviour. Discuss the issue of inclusiveness in the family. Watch movies that show ideas of equality and diversity as a family and discuss them with your child.