Unfortunately, for many children with mental health issues, “fitting in” in the traditional sense is difficult. My kids are young but my Spidey sense tingles when I sense inequality during field trip outings or birthday party chatter. “Hey, why wasn’t my kid invited to the party? He plays with your child all the time at school.” No one likes to be left out and the sting of anti-social behaviour can be twice as tricky for a child who’s already feeling different and alone.
There’s a very raw and riveting article in the April/May 2011 issue of Canadian Family magazine. It’s written by an anonymous contributor who points out that other parents need to better understand that children with [fill in the blank with chosen disorder or disability] may not always act “appropriately” but shunning them or pulling away helps neither the child with mental health issues nor your own child. What about tolerance? Understanding differences? Explaining the challenge of dealing with illness or disability? No one is perfect and everyone will face challenges in his or her life. What better time to show your child how to be compassionate, open-minded and empathetic than in the school yard?
What do you think when little Johnny always acts out on the playground? Do you befriend his parents/guardians? Do you talk to your kids about why he might be acting out or shun him and his family entirely? Share your thoughts here on my social network.