With kids, the need to be part of a group is instinctual; it’s survival. They want to fit in and be like everyone else because it gives them a sense of safety and security. So when your child tells you they don’t fit in, they’re also saying, “I’m vulnerable.”
Your child is going to feel like the problem is huge, so you have to be the one to say, “I’m sorry, that’s hard,” and then bring it down to its right size.
When your child is getting picked on for being different (whether actual or perceived) know that it’s excruciatingly painful for him or her. But you also need to realize as a parent that you can’t fix it; there’s nothing that you can say or do in the immediate moment that’s going to take that pain away. So don’t waste time or energy looking for a single solution. Instead, start working with your child to give them the skills they need to solve the problem they’re facing right now.
So what is your role as a parent in this situation? One job is to balance reassurance with coaching. When talking to your child, remind them that a lot of other kids have gone through the same thing and made it through okay. Give them some perspective on the issue, the knowledge that this is not the end of the world. Also, in your own mind, don’t let it be the end of the world.
This is the time to be a coach and teacher to your child. Coaches reinforce and remind kids of skills that have already been acquired. Teacher’s help kids identify and develop the skills they need to solve an individual problem. It’s a powerful thing to be able to help your child identify and solve his or her problems, because you’re giving them a tool that will aid them the rest of their lives.