• Therese

What can I do? My child is being excluded.

Updated: Jun 2, 2019

My daughter started school this term and it's been a nightmare. Most of the girls in her classroom knew each other from last year (Year 0) and they exclude her and are mean to her, so she doesn't have any friends. My daughter is anxious and sad and says that she hates school. I talked with her teacher but she's not been much help. I have two questions for you: 1/Do you think that the Teacher can/should do something in regards to the mean girls, or to help my daughter integrate and belong? 2/. What can I tell my daughter to make her feel better?


I began teaching over 30 years ago and I’ve taught hundreds of kids. I haven’t met a naughty child or a mean girl yet. If friendships can be a minefield for adults, imagine what it must be like for a 5 year old who is SUPPOSED to be immature and egocentric, spending time with others who are immature and egocentric. We ALL have more to learn about getting along with others. Your problem is not easily resolved, but with a bit of "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em", the solution is easy.


Your daughter’s teacher can insist the others play with her. This will more likely cause more problems than it was intending to solve. Making children be friends doesn’t work. Being excluded seems unfair too, a clever invite by the teacher to play together might be all that is needed to make friendships. It sounds like that has been tried and has failed.


All is not lost...You wouldn’t stop your daughter from reading books, climbing trees, trying different flavours, in fear of harm. You can’t stop her from experiencing these challenges when hanging out with people at school either. The Parents’ and educators’ job is to help your daughter to navigate painful feelings. More often than not, the grown up becomes attached to the problem, rendering them useless. You need to be available to help her to look beyond the problem to seek solutions. Resilience grows when children are encouraged to see the picture differently. Your daughter has the answers and unless she is attached to the problem, she will find a solution, you will be impressed with what she comes up with. Maybe the parenting lesson in this case is to “know when to walk away.”


Although these situations can cause parent’s anxiety, the lessons are invaluable for children. Your job is to love your child while they are learning them. With time, your daughter AND the girls who don’t play with her will learn how to relate to each other in a more meaningful way. While you don't want to keep your child free from harm, you can keep them safe from harm. This is a chance for your daughter to learn more about resilience and relationships. You can thank the “mean girls” later!!!.


As Kenny Rogers would say, “The secret to survivin’ is knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep”.


The New Zealand curriculum asks educators to focus on the “Key Competencies”, one of which is “Relating to Others”. These interactions help your daughter to learn how to negotiate and influence, learning about fairness and responsibility, about working with others and working in teams. If the adults act responsibly, with generosity and respect, the kids will learn it too. “Teaching by showing” is the “ace that you could keep”.

The New Zealand Curriculum, Key Competencies. "Relating To Others"

Therese is from a large family with three children of her own. Mr 26, Miss 24 and Master 15. As an educator with many years of experience, she has collected plenty of stories, she uses these and family tales to inform her teaching practice.



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