My oldest daughter's grade is the smallest in the school. There are only three classes for her grade when the other grades in the school have four or five classes. Most of these fifth-graders have been together since kindergarten.
The other day she came home telling me about this new girl who played soccer with her at recess. I asked "What's her name?" "Does she play soccer on a team?" The answer to both questions was that my daughter didn't know.
Being the new kid stinks. Walking into the beginning of a new school year not knowing anyone is intimidating and lonely. Being the only new kid on the soccer team or in the acting class makes something a child loves, an activity to dread.
As school starts back up for most of us, helping our kids be aware of the new children in their midst and encouraging them to show some compassion and offer friendship can go a long way toward easing the transition for the new kids in their midst.
Most of the time the kids who have been together in a class or on a team don't even think about how tough it must be to be "the new kid." The established kids aren't intentionally mean. They're just oblivious.
As this school year gets under way, help open your kids' eyes to the new kids in their midst and encourage them to offer friendship and include those kids in their activities. Inviting a child to join them in a game or activity doesn't cost your child anything, but it may mean everything to the other child.
- If your child talks about a new child at school or from a sport or activity, gently encourage them to get to know the other child. Ask them if they are including that child in their activity.
- Help your child to walk a mile in the other child's shoes. Ask your child how she would feel if she were the new kid. Help her brainstorm ways that she can make the other child feel welcome.
- Remind your child that God accepts each of us, flaws and all. He loves us and includes us in His kingdom, despite our flaws. He wants us to show the same compassion to others. In John 13:34, Jesus says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
Getting our kids to step outside their comfort zone to reach out to another child teaches our children compassion and gives them an opportunity to show God's love to others.