How to Respond to A Child Who Feels Like No One Likes Him
I recently reached out to some of my peeps, parents and educators who are “in it” so to speak. The “it” being supporting children and adolescents with anxiety. I asked them what is one of the main concerns you hear from parents and children. Their response was, “Their child and/or student worries that no one likes them.” This was a disheartening response to say the least.
Now, as much as I would love to put on my fairy Godmother outfit, sprinkle pixie dust and place us all in an imaginary bubble where everyone loves everybody this is simply not realistic. The truth of the matter is, not everyone clicks and usually the ones which seem to offend or rub us the wrong way, provide us with some of our greatest lessons.
So rather than get on your high horse and say things like, they are just insecure because you are so smart, say something critical or judgmental about the situation or pretend like it could not be true (everyone loves you), consider keeping these four things in mind:
Calm Your Reactivity. If your heart just went into your throat you are not calm. I know you are tempted to go in and whisk that uncomfortable feeling away so that your child can feel better quick. However, in the long run, that really doesn’t make your child more resilient. Instead, I encourage you to pause and breathe. Your child doesn’t need to be rescued he or she needs to be heard.
Listen & Repeat. When listening to your child, do it in a way where you could repeat back exactly what you heard. It is not unusual for a child to start off saying, no one likes me, which turns into, I hate math or so and so played with someone else at recess. The point being is, take some time to truly listen before responding otherwise you may never really get to what is really bothering your child.
Deeper Emotions. I have found in my work with children that phrases such as, no one likes me, can be code for, I am starting to experience deeper emotions. Emotions such as loneliness, insecurity and embarrassment. These emotion are nothing to be afraid of. When you allow your child to experience their feelings in the absence of reactivity (yours and his) they begin to dissolve.
Remind Children of Their Strengths. When your child states no one likes me, he is letting you know he does not feel recognized or valued for who he is. These statements can be little reminders that your child could use some one on one time, skill building (for example, take them to a batting cage) or a family movie night. These types of outings remind children that they don’t have to be anything other than themselves to be loved for who they truly are.
P.S. Hey guys, I am going on the road to teach in six different cities about Children & Anxiety. Consider booking me in your city or sign up for my Emotional Detox retreat at Kripalu Health & Yoga Center in Feb 2019. Also, check out my new on line downloadable audio course with Spirituality & Health.