Dealing with Social Rejection

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell of fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with crime, guilt—and there is the story of mankind. 
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden
BabyMoo has always been a sociable child. There is nothing he loves more than to be surrounded by other kids and participating in play. He has displayed a particular preference to socialising with older kids, maybe because he feels that they are more able to show him how to do fun things, as opposed to being with a group of children who are of the same age as he is.

With self discovered mobility comes a period of satisfying curiosity. He found out that he was able to do a lot of things on his own as he slowly realised that he is a separate and distinct entity from the people around him. He is thus able to take control of his actions - which forced his caregivers to up the vigilance factor. He also realised that there were other little people who 'speak' the language only kids seem to understand, and are also in the process of discovering the world around them. This sparked off his interest in being with other like-minded beings, and makes him look forward to playground jaunts, playdates, and being anywhere that has other children at play.

All good and fine, because in many situations of close proximity, we are either with friends, or have been lucky enough thus far to be in contact with other parents who also realise the importance of educating their children on how to play well with others.

Last weekend, we were at St Teresa's Church for our weekly Sunday mass. We don't normally go to this church, but BabyMoo woke up too late for our usual service. There is a 'Children's Room' here, which I don't really like to go to because on many other occasions, the children are left to raise a ruckus and not controlled in any way despite their parents being present. Sadly, I suppose many people do not realise that the room is not an alternative for a playground.

There were a few older kids there, some of whom were playing quietly, while there are others who were trying to practice their UFC moves.

BabyMoo was playing with his two cars on a bench, next to me, while silently observing the other kids at play. He then walked over to another boy, smiled, and offered his car to him, so that they can then play together. I was actually rather aghast at the boy's reaction next. He shrank away (as though BabyMoo has an infectious disease or has a grotesque appearance), pushed him, and shouted: "Go Away!"

My little boy walked over to me, with a perplexed expression, and laid his head on my lap. He then turned to look at the other boy - who was still looking at him with a sullen expression. His parents did not say a word. 

I didn't know what to do or say to make my baby feel better. He wasn't angry or upset... he looked more sad than anything else. I really think he was hurt. It broke my heart.

He was quiet for the rest of the half an hour we were there. Unusually so, because he clambered up to me, sat on my lap, hugged me, and kept his head buried on my shoulder. We left before the entire service ended, because after that, I was really pretty shaken up on this entirely new facet of parenting which I have to handle.

I know that this would only be the beginning of BabyMoo's exposure to social mechanics of children at play... which I suppose can be far more blatant than the social networkings of adults. Adults are able to hide their feelings, protect others' feelings, be emphatic, and make necessary adaptations to their lifestyles to co-exist with others, but children have yet a long way to go when it comes to understanding social graces.

BabyMoo can be aggressive when he's pushed to a corner. As parents, the hubs and I see the importance of teaching him on how to handle his emotions so that they will work in his favour instead of making him look like an uncouth boor. He needs to be taught to be emphatic and to be sensitive to other people's feelings. Basic social grace is important - saying 'Please' and 'Thank You' is mandatory - and he must apologise when he is in the wrong.

I wish I can protect him forever from the harsh realities of life. But I know I can't... and there will be many many more times when I have to soothe frazzled nerves, along with feelings of rejection, inadequacy and teasing. Knowing that I have an extremely sensitive boy also makes me realise that I can be in for a very rough ride... but I am going to try to teach him on how to make these episodes in his life a learning process instead of letting him view them as a massive blow to his ego. Wish me luck.


Linking up with:

SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays

11 comments :

  1. awwww! poor babymoo!! He must be wondering why he was rejected despite trying to be friendly to others. sigh. Look at that pic. Still wanna pinch his cheeks. :p

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    1. Ya lah... difficult age now, understand, but yet no understand.

      And can pinch his cheeks soon lah! ;)

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  2. Oh Sayang Sayang babymoo! Its heartbreaking I know. Poppy also asks "why they don't want to play with me?". That's tough to answer too. So I just tell her loud enough for the other kids' parents to hear "I don't know why they don't want to play with you. Remember mama told you? Only play with people who make you happy ok?". But kids being kids, sometimes she will still try to play with them. Sigh. They will learn ultimately. We just have to let them learn

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    1. It's really weird why some parents just don't bother, ya? Maybe they have learnt to ignore these things, and perhaps also they think: We don't know them - why bother?

      It may be easier if he can voice out his emotions, and then for me to address them directly. I told him that maybe the other boy wasn't feeling well and didn't feel like playing, and it's not his doing which caused the outburst... but I talked to him quietly while I was in my lap.

      The hubs, on the other hand, said loudly... "It's ok if he doesn't want to play, his loss, not yours." (Duh!) Sometimes I think he takes the 'talking to him like an adult' thing a little too seriously! Hahah!

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  3. It is such a toughie and something I find hard to explain to Lil Pumpkin, who is a very sociable child as well. Even more unfathomable is when the parents of the other kids are around. Not saying all kids that she approaches needs to play with her, but at least teach them to politely decline and not just ignore, or worst, push aside? :/

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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  4. I so understand how you feel, my children have had their fair share of rejection. Now that my older two are older, they are learning to deal with it, and I feel less sad for them. I feel more so for my youngest and I have also written previously on it. I try to keep their innocence and love for people for as long as they can. Personally, I would rather be rejected than to cause someone to feel rejected. (Which is probably more often than I am aware of).

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    1. Yes... it's especially hard when they are still at the 'trying to make them understand' stage. When they are older, it doesn't make it less gurtful, but at least they can understand us better when we explain that it has nothing to do with them, especially when the rejection is outright, and not due to exclusion because they don't play well together.

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  5. Awww, the poor sweetie. He is such a dear boy, and the fact he extended his friendship by offering the other boy a car - that is fabulous.

    I like Adora's response though! A winner, and it would be good to at least express to the other parents that isn't the kind of social grace to instill in kids!

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    1. Sandra... I *hate* to say this, but the parents weren't too bothered by social graces themselves. Before this incident, the two parents sat on the pew, and stretched the boy out to fill the length of it~!

      The room is small, and there are limited seats. Even the hubs stood throughout the service because there were other mums with babies in arms who needed these seats.

      I don't want to superficially judge, but it's hard not to do that when the parents are that way. Sometimes I don't blame the majority of Singaporeans for being quick on the button when it comes to foreigners in our country, especially when these FT are professionals.

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  6. Reg! What time service did you go? I was there too! Except that I sat out of the Children's Room for the same reasons - they treat it like a playground and the parents just bo chup - usual suspects are either talking among themselves or texting or just ignoring their kids as they throw and kick the plastic chairs around. I throw a *tsk* look but before I know it, I feel like I'm being talked about for wanting to maintain some order. Then hubby will go "do you mind?" and obviously they do because it seems like our request falls on deaf ears.
    But yeahhh next time you're there, tell me k!

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  7. Hug hug babymoo! Dun feel sad ok? Not every one is as nice as DinoEgg kor kor :P

    You don't see DinoEgg is so jovial n happy go lucky, he faces these rejection too during his younger days. He cannot understand why the other kid do not want to talk/play with him. I have to console and talk to him, he sort of get it but at that age he is still puzzled. Now that he is older he handles it better, if the other kid(s) do not want to play with him, fine with him. If the other kid gets physical he will fight back.

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